Tuesday, August 23, 2016

jollyliteracy.com and just2ducks LLC Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review


My family had the privilege of trying the Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar from jollyliteracy.com and just2ducks LLC for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

jollyliteracy.com makes Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar, a synthetic phonics and grammar program with interactive songs, stories and actions that go along with the student books and teacher's books. The Jolly Phonics program is multi-sensory, active, and perfect for younger children. It includes worksheets in three student books, and a teacher's guide. Jolly Grammar is to be used after the Jolly Phonics program. This is also multi-sensory and active. It includes worksheets in one book and a teacher's guide. There are also Jolly Songs on CD and printed so you can follow along that also go along with what is being taught.

Jolly Phonics, Jolly Grammar, and Jolly Songs.

Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Included:
  • Jolly Phonics Teacher's Book in print letters
  • Jolly Phonics Student Book 1, 2 and 3
  • Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher's Book in print letters
  • Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book
  • Jolly Songs in print letters

The Jolly Phonics Teacher's Book in print letters takes you through how to teach phonics to your student the Jolly Phonics way. The book is divided into two sections: a comprehensive introduction to Jolly Phonics and the teaching method with yellow page borders and structured lesson plans for use with the Student Books with red (Student Book 1), blue (Student Book 2), and green (Student Book 3) page borders. The first section is further divided into five basic skills that are taught: Learning the Letter Sounds, Learning Letter Formation, Reading (Blending), Identifying the Sounds in Words, and Tricky Words. The first four of these are taught simultaneously from the start and the last skill, tricky words, is taught after the first few weeks. The second section has lesson plans first using Student Book 1 explaining using flashcards, a story to tell, actions to do, formation of letters, blending of letters with sounds being taught in words, sounding of words to listen for the letter sound, word bank words, dictation of calling out sounds for students to write, and further ideas, etc. For Student Book 2 the lesson plans go into more detail with alternatives, handwriting, tricky words, and words & sentences. For Student Book 3 it has lesson plans which go over the alternatives, tricky words, short or long vowel?, and comprehension pages.

The Jolly Phonics Student Book 1, 2 and 3 introduces the student to 43 letter sounds (42 if you count that the sound of c and k make the same sound). These short lessons are easily introduced at a rate of a letter a day. These are introduced in a specific order, not alphabetically so that children can start building words as early as possible. In the Student Book 1 each page with a letter to learn has it in both uppercase and lowercase, the action to do with a picture and description, a black and white line drawing picture to color, how to form the lowercase letter on the line for writing, a word and letter bank, and a listening activity. After the main workbook pages there are tricky words and other activity pages. In Student Book 2 it goes into more detail to teach alternatives (for sounds), handwriting, tricky words (words that don't sound like they are spelled), and words & sentences. For Student Book 3 it has alternatives, tricky words, short or long vowel? (if it is a vowel), and comprehension pages (which gets them to write the story told to them in their own words and draw a picture).

The Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher's Book in print letters takes you through how to teach grammar to your student the Jolly Grammar way. Jolly Grammar is to be used after the Jolly Phonics program. The book is divided into two sections: a comprehensive introduction to Jolly Grammar and the teaching method and structured lesson plan for each day of teaching with the Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book. Jolly Grammar teaches: parts of speech, plurals, punctuation, and the tenses past, present, and future. It also teaches spelling rules including: vowel digraphs, alternative spellings of vowel sounds, plural endings, short vowels and consonant doubling, tricky words, and consonant blends. In Jolly Grammar colors and actions are used to help children identify parts of speech in sentences, for example verbs are red and nouns are black. This makes it easier to remember and more fun to learn.

The Jolly Songs in print letters is a music CD with a book of the words of each song in print. There are 40 CD tracks that teach phonemes: s, a, t, i, p, n, c/k, e, h, r, m, d, g, o, u, l, f, b, ai, j, oa, ie, ee or, z, w, ng, v, oo oo, y, x, ch, sh, th th, qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar, & vowels. All of these songs are sung to well known tunes and the book that accompanies the CD also has games and activities that are ideal for car trips.

Zari working out of the Jolly Phonics Student Book 1.
 
How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

I have been using Jolly Phonics with my daughter Zari. She just going into Kindergarten next year, is not yet reading, and doesn't know her letters or letter sounds very well. We have been doing one lesson a day and she seems to be enjoying it. She is not yet ready for the Jolly Grammar and so I will be doing that with her after she finishes and masters the Jolly Phonics Student Books.

The first Jolly Phonics Student Book is very thorough so far. Zari and I have liked the stories, Jolly Songs, and actions the most. Since she is still mastering knowing her letters and letter sounds and printing them, she needed help on these things. I am glad that Jolly Phonics seems to be helping her learn her phonics and letters. She likes that it is fun and interactive.

We love this curriculum and recommend it to homeschoolers needing to teach phonics or grammar. These are great for beginning literacy and reading. We have also been using jollyliteracy.com CANDOCUBES in addition to the Jolly Phonics...so look for that review soon.

BUY IT (these are prices out of their current catalog as of this post)

You can purchase these from jollyliteracy.com from their catalog. The Jolly Phonics Student Books are $4.50 a piece and the Teacher's Book is $12.95. The Jolly Songs book and CD is $17.50. The Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book in print is $7.50 and the Teacher's Book is $8.50.

Follow Them on Social Media:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jollyliteracy
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jollyliteracy
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jollyliteracy/
Hashtags: #hsreviews #literacy #reading #phonics #interactivelearning

Read other homeschool curriculum reviews for jollyliteracy.com and just2ducks LLC Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar...
Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Enlivenze LLC Rainbow Pencils FlipStir Puzzle Review #ShakeStirSolve


My family had the privilege of trying the Rainbow Pencils FlipStir Puzzle from Enlivenze LLC for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Enlivenze LLC are the makers of the creatively fun and highly addicting FlipStir Puzzles. They were looking for smart active play and their ideas made something very unique. This is a great company with wonderful ambitions and an eye for innovation.

The FlipStir Puzzles are award-winning art-inspired handheld toys that challenge the mind. These all enclosed, self-contained puzzles are made up of ten plastic pieces that make up a picture when solved. These plastic pieces are three-dimensional (3D) and half-moon shaped with one of the flat sides having a piece of the picture. They are totally surrounded inside a tube that you can see through. This tube has a ball that is attached to a moveable wand on one end that allows the player to flip and stir the puzzle pieces within the tube. To solve the puzzle all you have to do is line up the pieces in the correct order to reveal the artwork. Then you can shake the tube to mix the pieces up once again and start the process over. There are 5 different puzzles, all of them require no batteries and are made in the USA. They come in two different difficulty levels and are designed for 7 and up.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

I love trying new games and toys that look like they would give my family a challenge or have some educational properties. The FlipStir Puzzle is both of these things. It improves eye-hand coordination, problem solving, fine motor development, patience, and self esteem.

Rainbow Dash approves of the Rainbow Pencils FlipStir Puzzle :)

We received the Rainbow Pencils FlipStir Puzzle to try out. I chose this one because of its bright fun colors and that is was a level 1, so that maybe all my kids could try it out. I was very enthusiastic about this puzzle and wanted my kids to share my interest in this neat toy, but at first I was met with disapproving shrugs and shaking of heads. My kids didn't warm up to this inventive toy right away like I thought they would.

I love this puzzle because it is completely encapsulated. The pieces cannot come out of the tube and therefore won't be lost. I wish all my puzzles were like this because my kids are notorious for loosing pieces to things! I also believe these to be a perfect on-the-go travel game for this very purpose!

Yay me! I solved it!

After I myself sat down to try and solve the Rainbow Pencils FlipStir Puzzle the inquisitive eyes from my younger children came over to watch me in my endeavor. I solved the puzzle in about 10 minutes, noting that you could put the word "RAINBOW" reading from top to bottom or bottom to top depending upon how the pieces were positioned in the tube. I liked holding the tube sideways while I worked the pieces into position and found that working from one side to the other was the easiest for me. After showing that the puzzle was indeed solvable to my children they proceeded to try it for themselves. I guess they needed some inspiration and a little coaxing first although for them it was a good test in patience.

Teela trying to solve the Rainbow Pencils FlipStir Puzzle.

BUY IT
All FlipStir Puzzles are $24.95 as of this post. You can purchase them through the Enlivenze LLC website.

Follow Them on Social Media:
FlipStir Puzzle
Facebook: www.facebook.com/flipstirpuzzle
Twitter: www.twitter.com/flipstir
Enlivenze LLC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/enlivenze
Twitter: www.twitter.com/enlivenze 
Hashtags: #hsreviews #shakestirsolve


Read other homeschool curriculum reviews for Enlivenze LLC...
FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Spanish Program, with the Starter Set 1 Review

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Spanish Program Starter Set 1.

My family had the privilege of trying the Spanish Program, with the Starter Set 1 from Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids is a program founded by Kit Strauss. She created Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids because of the lack of quality foreign language programs geared towards children and she wanted something for her three sons. Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids is geared towards ages 3 and up. It teaches how to speak and understand practical words in Spanish for everyday use in a short amount of time. With immersion and visuals this program is great for the whole family combining real life situations with humor and fun.


The Spanish Program Starter Set 1 Includes:
  • Spanish DVD, Vol. 1 with videos Levels 1-3 - Flight 101: Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast, Flight 102: The Little Magic House Part 1, and Flight 103: The Little Magic House Part 2. These are stories of kids speaking Spanish in funny realistic situations.
  • Three Parent-Teacher Guides (one for each level) - includes video summary, vocabulary list in both Spanish and English, geography, suggested lesson plans with activities to do, extended learning activities, course completion award and picture of Squisher (the international inchworm) to cut out.
  • Flashcards and Go Squish Card Game for Levels 1 to 3 - Set of 150 flashcards that have the student match cards with memorable scenes in the videos to words or phrases in Spanish. These flashcards are in three distinct colors (blue, green, and pink to go with orange books) to similarly match the teachers guides and workbooks that this set comes with. The bonus Go Squish! card game is similar to Go Fish, but all in Spanish and the object is to get Squisher flyer miles enough for an airline ticket to get him to his destination.
  • Workbooks for Levels 1-3 - These workbooks have activities, culture, Squisher says (which is a comic with the inchworm in it), and an answer key. 
  • Stickers Set for Flight 101: Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast - Place these around the house or classroom to reinforce Spanish vocabulary that was taught in the first video.

Teela and Zari watching the Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Spanish DVD.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

All of us enjoyed the DVD. These episodes are an essential and mandatory part of the program. We liked how each episode started as an in-flight-movie on FLK Airlines. It was fun watching the three main characters, which were brothers, go about their daily lives speaking Spanish. There were some funny parts and things that kept it interesting and engaging. My kids loved this way of learning Spanish, not by reading or writing, but through context and clues. To keep it an immersive experience we as teachers and parents are told not to tell the students the word translations or the video summaries. It seemed like the Spanish was sinking in better than previous programs we have tried and the videos made us feel a part of this Spanish speaking household. I thought the "Rapid Review" of each part was very nice at summing up the vocabulary learned and helped my kids remember what was taught and helping me to know if they are ready to move on or repeat the session.

I was instructed to read the first three pages of the first Teacher's Guide which was "How To Get Started". It went over an overview of the program, program goals, about the guide, and who/where to contact if you have questions. These Parent-Teacher Guides are very helpful with giving different lesson plans so you can pick the one that suits your learner the best or pick multiple ones so that your learner can experience more than one. These activities are an extension of the learning from the DVDs. I liked how they had all sorts of learning activities that coordinated with different subjects; for example: geography, grammar, and vocabulary. They also have games, workbook pages, flashcard games, review, etc. in the lesson plans.

I was expecting the flashcards to have the picture and name of the object in Spanish on the front and the English word equivalent on the back or the picture with the English word and the Spanish word on the other side. Instead I found that because of the immersive qualities of this program the flashcards were pictures from the DVDs along with other cards with Spanish words and phrases they matched up to. Each were placed on one side of the card only with the Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids logo on the back. These cards are printed on glossy card-stock so as to preserve the quality longer. The Go Squish! Card Game instructions were a bonus that came with our set and for a limited time it is included in the sets and some of the products.

Teela working in the Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Spanish Program workbook.

Since there is only one set of workbooks that we received with this set I picked my 8 year old daughter to do them. These are best for grades 3 and up, but Teela is a strong reader and just going into 3rd. These helped expand her knowledge of the words and phrases with fun crosswords, word searches, geography information, facts, idioms, comics, etc. Teela loved doing these workbooks.

The stickers we will be placing around our home to help us learn Spanish. These are 9 pages of large print Spanish words and phrases in full color. These will help me reinforce the concepts learned in the DVD. These also help my kids see the actual word in written format.

This Spanish for kids is a wonderful program! We love this for learning homeschool Spanish. We recommend it as a Spanish curriculum for all homeschoolers. We hope to be able to partake of more of the Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Spanish Program soon because we really enjoyed the Starter Set 1.



BUY IT
The Starter Set 1 is regularly $165.00, but it's on sale now through August 31st for just $140.25! That's a savings of 15%! For a limited time the Go Squish! Card Game instructions are included.

Follow Them on Social Media:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ForeignLanguagesForKidsByKids
Hashtags - #hsreviews #foreignlanguage #homeschoolspanish



Read other homeschool curriculum reviews for Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Spanish Program, with the Starter Set 1...
Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Talking Fingers Inc. Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy Review


My family had the privilege of trying a one-year subscription of the new online version of the Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy app from Talking Fingers Inc. for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Talking Fingers Inc. is an educational program developer that is largely funded by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Their programs help young children with early literacy. One of their educational programs is called Talking Shapes.

Taking Shapes up until just recently was an app for iPad that teaches preschool and kindergarten age children to learn to identify letters and their sounds and learn to read. It now is available as an online version in which you can access though your computer browser. Dr. Jeannine Herron, a neuropsychologist, developed this program. Talking Shapes involves both left (logic, math, science) and right (creativity, arts) sides of the brain for more proficient reading. This program is intended for ages 4-5 and shows children that the words they can say are made up of letters they can see! Talking Shapes is seven interactive storybooks that when completed will introduce all 40 speech sounds (phonemes) from the English language and the letters that stand for those sounds. This program raises phoneme awareness.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

My daughter Zari is going into kindergarten this upcoming homeschool year so we decided she would be great for this Talking Shapes. She has had a hard time learning her letters and their sounds. We hoped that this program would help her.

We found that the Talking Shapes online program loaded super slow on our computer, but we do have sluggish internet speeds. When you first login to Talking Fingers Inc. Talking Shapes and finally get to the storybook map you will see only the first book in color and all the others greyed out. There are seven total books/lessons to do. You must have your child do this in the order that is given by numbers by the book covers in order for them to progress through the series. Your student will be able to move on to the next book when the first story and lesson is completed, but not before.

Zari enjoying the Talking Shapes story.

When you click on a story book in the series it loads and sings a song to start about the vowels. It then has a starting menu with Story, Letters, Spell, and Read to pick from. We just clicked on the first one, Story. It tells the story of two girls from the past that want to remember their stories that they have told others and devise a plan to create letters and an alphabet to be able to write the words down. This is the listening part of the program.

Zari Drawing Letters in Talking Shapes.

This story goes on to show the child the Letters that are introduced first in this story book. The child also learns through pictures how to recognize the letter. For example, a snake in the shape of a S, a tree in the shape of a T, a mountain in the shape of a M, a pear to form the uppercase P, or an acrobat with her arms in the general shape of an A, etc. These are the Talking Shapes that help the child remember the sound and shape of the letter. When the student clicks on the pictures they say the sound of the letter. The student also goes through a sequence of tracing the letters (with the mouse pointer or finger/stylus on a touch screen) on the Talking Shapes picture with outlines of the letter, on an actual letter outlined, and a Talking Shapes picture without outlines of the letter. You also draw letters to make two-three letter words. This is the drawing part of the program.

Zari spelling words in Talking Shapes.

The Spell portion of the activities is next. Words are introduced with the letters they learned previously. The program first has the student spell, trace, place together, and sound out each letter in the picture they give for three letter words. They have to find the correct letter to place in the highlighted box, trace it, go on to the next letter, trace it, place them together, find the last letter, trace it, and place it together with the rest of the letters. We liked how the letters had to be manually placed together so that the blend could be heard. The student does this with the letter outlines on the pictures first, then just the letter outlines, then just the pictures without outlines. This is the game part of the program.

Zari reading words in Talking Shapes.

After this section is the Read section in which the program first reads the child a short four sentence story with the words they learned then it leaves out one of the words. Words go by in flying pictures at the top of the screen and the child has to click on the correct one for the sentence to complete it before the word disappears off the screen. When the correct one is picked the pictures pop and the word appears correctly in the sentence where it was. These fill in the blanks help reinforce the words that were taught before.

A Preview of Some of the Stories and What They Teach...
  1. The Fat Cat: Introduces the uppercase consonants C, F, S, H, and T along with some sounds they make and the short vowel sound of uppercase A. The words CAT, FAT, SAT, and HAT are also introduced.
  2. The Silly Hen: Introduces the uppercase consonants P, N, M, L, along with some sounds they make and the short and long vowel sound of uppercase E. The names PAT and NAT and the words MAN, FAN, PAN, CAN, MEN, HEN, PEN, PET, MET, NET, LET, HE, ME, TAP, SET, NAP, MAP, LAP, HAM are also introduced.
  3. The Dancing Pig: Introduces the uppercase consonants  B, G, J, D, W, along with some sounds they make and the short vowel sound of uppercase I. The words PIN, BIB, BIG, JET, DIG, WIG, LEG, BAG, BED, SAD, JAM, BAT, DAD are also introduced.
  4. and so on...

What we disliked about Talking Shapes:
  • It loads super slow. This is very frustrating!
  • To draw/trace the letter the child only needs to move the cursor or finger around the picture area until the letter is filled in. This encourages scribbling rather than actually tracing the letter correctly. 
  • We have only seen the program cover uppercase/capital letters and we are on the 4th book.
What we liked about Talking Shapes:
  • The story is cute and engaging.
  • The program is educational and interactive.
  • It is fairly repetitious which is great for this age group.
  • It is great for visual, tactile kinesthetic, and auditory learners.

My daughter Zari loves Talking Shapes. I could see it actually help her grasp letter concepts that she hasn't been able to before. She is finally beginning to understand basic phonics, letter sounds, letter shapes, and how to build words better. I am very happy with this program and its ability to help my daughter learn her letters and simple words easier so that she can learn to read.

Follow Them on Social Media:
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TalkingFingers/
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/talkingfingersvideo
Twitter - https://twitter.com/ReadWriteType/with_replies
Hashtags - #hsreviews #talkingfingers #phonics #lettershapes

Read other homeschool curriculum reviews for Talking Fingers Inc. Talking Shapes...
Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}

Crew Disclaimer