Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On Downtime & Friends

Welcome back to day three of Tips For Homeschooling Parents. Did you have a read through some of the tips from the other bloggers yesterday? You can find their links at the end of this post.

I hope you will continue to join us every day this week for more great Tips For Homeschooling Parents.

Do your children have ample downtime in their day?

Time spent with nothing to do but whatever they please!

Do they have time every day to run, play and simply do nothing if that is what they choose?

Science is proving time and time again that kids with not enough downtime are highly stressed and generally unhappy.

Granted the amount of downtime required is generally different for each of us but take the time to watch your children, to figure out what is the right amount of time. Often their behaviour throughout the day is a clear indicator if we are open to seeing it.

My daughter as an example, after she has had a very busy day, almost always retreats to our backyard, to do nothing. Out there she reconnects with herself, with the earth and with her quiet space. She digs, she gardens, she cartwheels, she sings and she bounces on the trampoline.

This is important for her and with out she becomes easily frazzled.

Homeschool Tip #5

Work 'downtime' into your routine. Both your children and your body and mind will thank you for it.

We gather with friends to learn 1 - 2 times per week and have been doing so for about 3 or so years now. We call this our micro-schooling way of learning.

This has truly invigorated our home school. Whilst we don't always get to choose what we are learning, we do love and always embrace these days.

The children are encouraged and cheered on by their friends and the other adults that are doing the teaching. They experience co-operative learning on a regular basis and have the opportunity to create long lasting friendships

Homeschool Tip #6

Grab some friends and do some learning together. If you are new at this, start with some simple, some art classes or science experiments and let it grow from there.

More Tips For Homeschool Parents

Each day this week I am sharing links right here to the other bloggers that are joining in with the Tips For Homeschool Parents blog hop.

The blogs I link to will also be different each day so you will find heaps of variety and you never know, you may just find your new favourite blog!

Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine  ~ Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind  ~ Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead  ~ Joelle @ homeschooling for His Glory  ~ Joesette @ Learning Curve  ~ Kari @ Random Acts of Boyhood  ~ Katie @ Katie's Daily Life  ~ Kemi @ Homemaking Organized  ~ Kim @ Homestead Acres
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Happy Homeschooling Friends,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Logic Of English Essentials ~ A Review

My children have been working their way through Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English.

We were supplied with the complete 2nd edition in order to write this review. This is a lengthy review. It is a large piece of curriculum and to truly understand this product it takes a look at as many components of it as possible.

What Is Essentials From Logic Of English

The Essentials program is a multi level reading, spelling, grammar and vocabulary curriculum. This one piece of curriculum covers it all and in three distinct levels, making it easy to use with children of varying ages simultaneously and to reuse the program over several years.

Logic of English Essentials 2 Product Review
The entire Essentials 2nd Edition

There are several pieces to this program and receiving it to review has been such a blessing to us. Have a look at the huge pile we received. This is the complete set. It includes:

  •     Essentials Teacher's Guide
  •     Essentials Student Workbook
  •     Spelling Journal
  •     Morpheme Cards
  •     Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
  •     Spelling Rule Flash Cards
  •     Grammar Flash Cards
  •     Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
  •     Phonogram Game Cards: Bookface
  •     Phonogram Game Cards: Manuscript or Cursive
  •     Phonogram Game Tiles
  •     Spelling Analysis Card
  •     Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference

All of these materials will be all I will ever need to teach reading and spelling to my children that are 7+ years old. For younger children they recommend to begin with their Foundations curriculum.

I own several levels of a different, well known home school spelling and reading curriculum and one of the reasons why I would choose Logic of English is because of the one off purchase. One order only and I have everything, I don't need to go back year after. Essentials does utilise many cards, however I can easily keep these all together in one place.

Essentials provides linguistically accurate phonics instruction and explains it all so clearly in the teachers manual. Teaching our children to read has got to be the number one thing most homeschooling parents agonise. Phonics, phonograms, morphemes, grammar, vocabulary, spelling it really can get all very confusing for a homeschool parent. Essentials holds your hand and walks you through every step and gives you all the background information on why!

Essentials 2nd Edition Teacher Manual

The teacher manual is quite an edition. It is a hardcover, 630+ page, colourful, well laid out manual. The first 40 odd pages outline, the Essentials program, including the scope and sequence, how to use and teach the program, spelling analysis, teacher tips and more.

There's a lot to this and it isn't a program that arrives in the post, you open the box and begin using it. You really need to spend some time familiarising yourself with everything about the program before you begin with your students.

After the introduction you have a complete section on placement tests and pre-lessons. This is where you can easily determine what level of the program your child should begin with, A, B or C. I have one child in each level of the program.

Essentials 2nd Edition Homeschool Curriculum
A peek inside the teacher manual and at the phonogram cards.

The teacher manual then moves into the actual lessons. Each lesson is set out in days with more than enough content to cover five days of instruction, completing one full lesson in a week.

For us though we find that too much and are taking things much much slower than is laid out in the teachers manual. I have broken down a lesson for you so you can see just exactly how much is in this program.

Lesson Structure

Lesson outline

The beginning of each lesson always outlines what will be covered and what materials are required. This really helps with preparing for the lesson.

Day 1 - Essential Concepts

Here is where we review learned phonograms, introduce new phonograms and advanced phonograms. Each part of the lesson is fully scripted, with teacher tip boxes along the edges of the page.

Day 1 cont - Exploring Sounds

Here you discuss, play with and possibly complete a worksheet from the student book in reference to any new sounds being learned.

Day 1 cont - Spelling Rule

The new spelling rule is introduced, once again with lots of instruction on how to introduce, why the spelling rule is in place, examples of the rule in action and generally a worksheet to go along with this portion of the lesson.

Day 2 - Building Words

Here the lesson plays with the new phonograms, possibly with a card game and some spelling activities. It also introduces vocabulary with morpheme cards.

Day 2 - Spelling Journal

Students create their own spelling journals and will add to them as the program progresses.

Day 2 - Spelling Analysis Review

Here you will review the learned phonograms and move into the spelling lists. Each lesson contains 3 lists each at different levels (A, B, C) the list you use is determined by the level you chose during the placement tests

Day 3 - Words In Context

Again, review is constantly built into the program. This section also includes the grammar component, which begins at an easy level of grammar basics and moves up in difficulty with each lesson.  Day 3 also includes a dictation exercise.

Day 4 - Words In Action

Here we are running through a quick review of everything learned over the past 3 days. Then it moves into Vocabulary work and offers options at all 3 levels (A, B, C). Then we have another dictation exercise, a reading exercise and a composition exercise.

Day 5 - Check Your Understanding

Final review day for everything learned this week, including worksheets, dictation exercises and grammar activities.

Playing one of the many games that are built into the program

I used Lesson 2 as my guideline for this lesson outline, it is 30 pages in total, in the teacher manual, not including the student sheets, game cards and phonogram cards. These lessons are so thorough.

How We Have Used The Program

We've used Essentials exactly as laid out in the teacher manual. We all work together and this is the very first thing we do each day, when everyone is fresh and attention spans are generally at their best. I have 3 children and each of them are all in different levels, but working together means I'm not repeating the lessons 3 times over.

The Essentials Reader

I was also sent the PDF download for the Essentials Reader, the Essentials Reader Student Activity Book and the Essentials Reader Teachers Guide.

Whilst not necessary to the program itself I personally feel that this is a great addition to it and a wonderful way to work more on the skills learned through the lessons.

The lessons in the reader and teachers guide work with the main Essentials program.

Here my daughter is completing a copywork page, rewriting some of the sentences from the reader passage she has just read on the screen.

What We Didn't Like

I actually can't find anything that I don't like about this program. Admittedly at first it can seem quite overwhelming, but once you have a good read of the Teacher Manual and actually get started with the lessons it is really easy to follow.

Essentials is not student directed, this program needs a teacher/adult with the student for each lesson so it could, for some, be a little time consuming, but we simply do 15 - 30 minutes each day together.

What We Did Like

I love that I can work on a language arts program with all of my children at once. I don't think I've come across anything as yet that I can do that with.

My eldest reads above grade level but he still needs work with spelling, which is why I chose to include him in this and he is learning a great deal already.

I like that absolutely everything to teach reading, spelling, grammar and vocabulary is all included in this program.

It is multi-sensory, includes games and various activities to appeal to most learners. Whilst the lessons are jam packed, you can easily take things at your own pace.

Looking Ahead

We will absolutely be continuing to move forward with Essentials. It is now a regular part of our week.

 photo Logic of English Logo small_zpsbttgcgd2.png

Pricing & Details

Visit the Logic Of English web store to view all of the Essentials materials.

To see more from Logic Of English visit them via your favourite social media outlet


I hope you found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of Essentials 2nd Edition or Logic Of English Foundations program for younger learners, from members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.

Happy Homeschooling,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

On Chores & Motivation

Welcome back to day two of Tips For Homeschooling Parents. Did you have a read through some of the tips from the other bloggers yesterday? You can find their links at the end of this post. I hope you will continue to join us every day this week for more great Tips For Homeschooling Parents.

Build Chores Into Your Home School Schedule

Homemaking or housework can be incredibly difficult to maintain whilst raising children, add homeschooling into the mix and if you are anything like me it can be downright overwhelming.

Not only do we need to cook, clean, meal plan and all of the other gamut of must do's that keeping a home requires but we also need to research curriculum, plan lessons, physically take an active part in the children's education every day, and ensure we have enough social and extra curricular activities organised for them. So basically us homeschool mums are working the equivalent to a full time job on top of the regular keeping of the home.

This isn't new, women have been keeping full time jobs and raising families for decades.  The big stand out difference here for me though is those homes for the most part, generally stand empty most days of the week. No one is there pulling out toys, running dirt in and out of the house every few minutes. Experimenting in the kitchen, and making messes every where you turn.

With staying home and having a houseful it means that the house really does get lived in and it needs constant attention. So much so that there is no way I can keep on top of it all on my own. Quite frankly now that my children are 14, 11 and 7 they are all more than capable of taking on their fair share of the housework.

So we build this into our daily schedule as much as we can. Along with their list of educational tasks they need to complete for the day they will also have, as a part of that very same list (we don't do extra chore charts) the things they need to do around the home. This varies depending on what we've got going on and how much of a disarray the house might be in. 

My older two are well and truly capable of doing pretty much anything I do around the home, from cleaning bathrooms, to washing clothes and mowing the backyard. My 7 year old is still in training, I don't expect much of anything from one that age. They are still babies after all. He will sort washing, clean some windows, sweep the floor, unpack the dishwasher, pick up toys etc. As he matures so will his level of jobs around the house.

We've never done any huge chore chart systems, oh we've tried them in the past but they never work for us. So I simply show the kids how to do various chores until they can do them proficiently and then I know I can add them into their daily tasks list. No need to make things harder than what they need to be.

This doesn't mean that we have a spotless home, far from it actually! It simply means that I do not need to carry the burden on my own. It also means that I am teaching the children valuable life skills. Ones I know that that they will thank me for as the years progress.

Homeschool Tip #3

Tip number 3 is to include daily household chores in with your regular school day. It can also help to break up the monotony of the day.

Finding Your Child's Motivation

Are you finding the days dragging out? Kids dragging their feet and taking 3 times as long as they probably should to complete their school work? My older two are generally pretty good and I feel that for the most part this is simply maturity. When they were younger they always dragged the chain but as they gained more skills and the work becomes much more manageable to complete independently they have both flourished and have become quite reliable independent kids.

My 7 year old on the other hand, well he's 7. Don't get me wrong I never expect more than what I feel they can deliver. You all know that we are a 'better late then early' family and we are also very relaxed with our homeschooling.

At such a young age our primary focus is getting reading happening, along with some basic arithmetic. Young children really can and do learn all of the extra's (such as science, geogrpahy, social studies etc) simply by living a full and varied life. They don't need a curriculum to take care of those things. Although he does get small amounts from our micro school and co-op days. For his work at home with me though he can do what he needs to do in as little as 30 - 40 minutes of structured time, roughly 3 times a week.

He can however, make that 30 minutes drag out to 90 minutes on days where he simply isn't feeling it! That was until I found his motivation. By that I don't mean bribes or punishment in any way. Those are not things I wish to bring into our homeschool. Although I do believe at times we need to assist the kids with their motivation, by adding in something (and this will be different for each child) that invigorates them and assists them in their perseverance for a job well done.

For my 7 year old that is one of racing his mum. At least for now it is anyway. The thing with these simpler motivational tools is they can be fickle things, they don't work forever and often you only find them by chance. Which is what occurred with us one morning.

He was at the dining table, where he and I generally sit together for this part of the day. His work was all laid out in front of him, ready for him to choose what he would work on first. We are in the early stages of fostering independence and are pretty much at stage 1, but that is a whole other blog post. He was dragging his feet. Doing everything other than what we needed to do.

I looked behind and noticed that the kitchen was still a mess from breakfast. I was starting to get a little panicky, I had a kitchen that needed cleaning, and three kids that needed attention from me, plus the million and one other things I had on my list for the day. Please, just get started already!

So I gave him an opportunity to race me. He needed to pick one thing from the choices in front of him. Complete that one thing whilst I was behind him cleaning in the kitchen. So for example, he chose his math sheet. I said to him, let's see if you can beat mummy in unloading the dishwasher.

He was off like a shot, and of course he beat me every single time! This worked like a charm and on days he is eager to have races he powers through and his small amount of work is wrapped up in no time at all. Plus my kitchen gets cleaned up at lightning pace!

The other surprise with adding this element into to his routine is one of fostering independence. I always make sure he understands what he needs to do before I head into the kitchen (which is literally 3 steps from the table he is sitting at). He has surprised both me and himself with what he can actually do. Often when I am sitting right there next to him he doesn't seem as capable as what he really is. Finding a simple motivational tool, such as racing mum, has shown both of us just how capable he really is.

Homeschool Tip #4

My fourth tip of the week is to find your child's motivation. This may take a bit of trial and error but it's well worth pursuing if you have children that drag their feet.

More Tips For Homeschool Parents

Each day this week I am sharing links right here to the other bloggers that are joining in with the Tips For Homeschool Parents blog hop.

The blogs I link to will also be different each day so you will find heaps of variety and you never know, you may just find your new favourite blog!

Dawn @ Double O Farms  ~ Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool  ~ Debbie @ Debbie's Homeschool Corner  ~ Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook  ~ Diana @ Busy Homeschool Days  ~ Diana @ Homeschool Review  ~ Elyse @ Oiralinde: Eternal Song  ~ Emilee @ Pea of Sweetness ~ Erin @ For Him and My Family  ~ Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Happy Homeschooling Friends,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Monday, March 28, 2016

On Morning Baskets and One More Thing

Welcome to the first day of  Tips For Homeschooling Parents. I hope you will join us every day this week for tips on all manner of things related to homeschooling.

Add In A Morning Basket To 'Fit It All In'

I think most homeschooling parents often wonder how on earth they will ever fit everything in. We spend many hours pondering what education means to us, how we foresee that with our children and what tools we will actually use to help guide us along this path.

If you are anything like me most years you will have a list a mile long of all the things you would like to cover. All the topics you'd love to introduce your children too. All the experiences you wish you could take.

Then the day to day reality sets in and you quickly realise that on some, if not many days it is all you can do just to get through the basics of the 3r's.

I've always gathered my children together to read to them every morning, or at least we try to do this every morning. One morning, quite some time ago it dawned on me that I could be using that time to our advantage.

Don't get me wrong, reading 'for fun' books is definitely an important part of our day but what if I could also add in other learning opportunities into the time window.

Slowly, slowly I began including books from history, biographies, books about art and artists. Science books and books relating to any unit we may have been working on. Whilst I read the kids draw and color. Sometimes their drawings will reflect the readings, other times we will practice our still life sketching skills.

Right now our Morning Basket routine consists of all of us having something we are reading aloud. My youngest simply shares out loud simple books that he can already read. This is purely to help build fluency and his confidence with reading out loud. My older two children choose a chapter book that they would like to read to us. I also read aloud from a chapter book of my choosing.

Generally that takes about 20 or so minutes. We have also begun working our way through the Logic of English program. I could do this individually with each of the children but I've chosen to use it as part of our morning basket routine because it is a program that we can utilise together at varying levels. We spend around 15 to 20 minutes on LOE each morning.

Currently we are looking at some famous Artists. Again we spend around 20 minutes reading, admiring and discussing art work, drawing and notebooking. This is the area of our morning basket where I also sneak in some copywork, which at the moment is related to our artist study.

I try to keep the morning basket portion of the day to around one hour. As we complete a book or begin to tire of a topic we change it up and include something different into the routine. At some point during the hour, generally when I notice that my 7 year old needs a break, we have been trying to work on perfecting our diaphragmatic breathing and a couple of simple yoga poses.

Even on busy days if all we can fit in is our morning basket than I know we have gathered together  and have exercised both our minds and our bodies. I love all of the little extra nuggets I have been able to fit into our year simply by including them in our morning basket.

Homeschool Tip #1

So my first tip for the week is to get started on a morning basket. Keep it simple, if you aren't already reading aloud first thing in the morning, then begin with that and once it is routine, little by little add in smaller pieces of 'something else' that you would like to share with your children.

Do One More Thing

After the morning basket, we move into our independent work blocks and I'll try and touch more on those later in the week.

From there it is lunch time and generally enthusiasm for the day is beginning to wane. This is where the 'do one more thing' tip comes into play.

Once we've cleaned up from lunch we simply do one more thing. It might be science, history , geography, art, craft or even board games together or simply any other topic we haven't touched on during the earlier part of the day. But whatever it is both the kids and I know that it is only one more thing.

It is so easy to let the afternoons slip by and not do anything productive with them, but if you include the 'do one more thing' habit into your routine you'll quickly be surprised as to how much extra you can pack into the day and still have a large chunk of the afternoon for down time.

We don't draw it out, this is generally the shortest part of our day, unless of course we are completely engrossed in what it is we are doing. Again, like with the morning basket, I rotate our 'do one more thing' topic so that we are touching on different areas each day.

Homeschool Tip #2

So my second tip for the week is to simply do one more thing after lunch. Keep it simple, you might even like to start with things board games, documentaries and crafts. Once it becomes routine then the skies the limit with what you may add in to that part of the day.

More Tips For Homeschool Parents

Each day this week I am sharing links right here to the other bloggers that are joining in with the Tips For Homeschool Parents blog hop.

The blogs I link to will also be different each day so you will find heaps of variety and you never know, you may just find your new favourite blog!

Annette @ A Net In Time  ~ Brandy @ Kingdom Academy Homeschool  ~ Brenda @ Counting Pinecones  ~ Carol @ Home Sweet Life  ~ Cassandra @ A Glimpse of Normal  ~ Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses  ~ Cristi @ Through the Calm and Through the Storm  ~ Crystal @ Crystal Starr  ~ DaLynn @ Biblical Womanhood  ~ Danielle @ Sensible Whimsy

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Happy Homeschooling Friends,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Week Of Tips For Homeschool Parents

All this week I'll be sharing some of my homeschool tips, with fresh new blog posts every day.

I have joined with the bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, where over the next five days  we will all be bringing you a whole host of tips for your homeschool.

Be sure to check back daily for all of the new tips added by all the various bloggers.

As the week progresses I will add the links to each of my blog posts below as an easy reference point.

See you all tomorrow for a full weeks worth of homeschool tips.

Day 1 Of Tips For Homeschool Parents

We talked about adding in a morning basket to your daily routine.

I also shared my reasoning on adding in just one more thing to your day.

Day 2 Of Tips For Homeschool Parents

I talked about how we handle chores around here.

Finding your child's motivation can make a huge difference to your homeschool day.

Day 3 Of Homeschool Tips For Parents

Does your child have enough down time in their day?

I shared how adding in learning with friends has added so much to how our homeschool.

Day 4 Of Homeschool Tips For Parents

Do your children spend adequate time outdoors in the fresh air every day?

I shared the best organisational tool I have added to our homeschool.

Day 5 Of Homeschool Tips For Parents

Here I talked about how I gently guide my children to independent learning.

And lastly I shared about choosing to see the positive.

Thank you for reading along with me on this series. It was a huge week but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

To see all the tips shared by all of the bloggers visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Happy Homeschooling,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Five On A Friday #3

Well here we are third week in a row with another 'five on a Friday'!!

In The Home

This week has seen us wrapping up a few bits and pieces all ready to take a bit of a break over the coming Easter period and beyond for a few days.

We've been making plans to catch up with family and friends, especially those we don't get see much during the school term.

In School

My eldest is wrapping up his last lesson in his M-U-S Pre Algebra book, this is my reminder to jump on and order Algebra 1 for him.

Our middle child is still powering through her very focused reading lessons, she's devouring simple chapter books now and is well on her way to becoming a proficient reader. If you have a struggling reader don't despair, things really do fall into place....eventually!

The youngest has also just made a huge jump in reading and has moved up a complete level in our Fitzroy reading program.

Out & About

We were able to get in a few hours at the beach this past week. The weather is definitely starting to cool down so beach visits will start becoming few and far between shortly.

I had my regular monthly catch up with my book club gals. Such a welcome night each month, full of great food, great discussions, great people and lots and lots of belly laughs!

This month we read Still Alice, a highly recommended read.

On The Net

I've been reading this article which covers some of the things to consider when your child isn't at grade level.

On My Blog

It's been a pretty quiet on the blog, you can tell how busy my weeks have been, if the blog is quiet ;-)

With Easter now upon us I thought I'd share a round up post to all of our Easter related themes.

And that's about it for another week. No matter what you do or how you celebrate over this coming long weekend, may it be one filled with happiness!

Happy Homeschooling Friends,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Five On A Friday #2

This week we've been away on our annual homeschool family camp. We hit the country this time around. Last year it was the beach so we wanted to offer up something different this year.

It goes without saying that this weeks 5 on a Friday will focus heavily on our fun at camp!

In The Home

I soaked up the gorgeous country views and the fresh country air.

In School

We certainly got our country on this week, with all manner of activities. Butter & Damper making, Billy Tea boiling races, branding, shearing and watching a horse get some new shoes. There was also whip cracking, yabby fishing, bush hut building and horse riding.

Out & About

Today we were very lucky to be test pilots in the brand new Spaceflight Academy soon to open on the Gold Coast. 

On The Net

I've been looking over this Financial Planning program to see if it would be suitable for use here in Australia.

On My Blog

This week I posted two reviews, one on the new Math-U-See Digital Packs and the other on a new elearning product from EdTechLens, learning all about the Rainforest.

And that about wraps up another week.

Happy Homeschooling Friends,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rainforest Journey ~ A Review

eLearning for Homeschool Rainforest Journey Unit Study

Over the past few weeks we've been reviewing Rainforest Journey, a fun online science program from EdTechLens as part of my 2nd grader's school day.

We were provided with a one year subscription to Rainforest Journey in order to write this review.

What is Rainforest Journey

Rainforest Journey is the the first interactive digital learning program released by EdTechLens. This product is aimed at children in grades K - 5. The thoughts behind it is to deliver an aesthetically pleasing program that you would normally only see delivered in the higher education levels but for the elementary aged child. The concept is that of a photo book, filled with video clips, photographs and audio that the children can easily interact with. Each level covers the same concepts, however they increase in complexity as the grade level increases.

First Impressions

The EdTechLens website is bright and fresh with stunning photographic images on the home screen. These create a sense of what is to come for the user and you know already from the home page that a great deal of passion has been put into this site.

The site is laid out in an easy to navigate fashion, with all of the regular links  across the top that one would expect to see within a website such as this. After clicking on the programs link you can read in more detail all about Rainforest Journey, including access to a few free sample lessons across the various grade levels. Be sure to watch the introductory video found on the bottom of that page.

 photo Rainforest Journey Ipad-Graphic-HR-play-button_zps7ly6jnpn.jpg

How We Used Rainforest Journey

We used Rainforest Journey exactly as detailed within the program. At this stage we haven't added any extra's as for us right now this is a nice little bonus learning opportunity.

My son logs in using the user name supplied to him by EdTechLens and he is taken directly to the first lesson. From then each time he logs in the first screen he sees is exactly where he is up to in the program.

There is a course outline link to the left where you can move back to review complete lessons and see what is coming up.

The lessons in the grade 2 level include a couple of stunning photograph's of either the rainforest itself or of some of the animals found within a rainforest. From time to time there are also short videos to watch.

With each image there is a small snippet of information that can either be read or the option to hear the details being read aloud is also there right on the screen.

There is a brief enrichment section, which contains just that little bit extra information about the topic being discussed right there alongside the lesson too.

So far we have looked at all the layers of the rainforest, some of the many animals that reside within those layers and various types of rainforests

At the end of each lesson there is a printable PDF of review materials. For the grade 2 option he has been asked to draw what he is learning about the layers and to describe each layer with several words. This is simple enough for him to complete and does help him to listen closely to the audio as knows he needs to come up with some describing words at the end of the lesson.

Each unit finishes with assessment quizzes. There are 5 units with a total of 34 lessons. Each lesson only takes around 10 - 20 minutes to complete, with end of lesson hands on activities as an extra.

We have also been using the Grade 5 level and it covers the same lesson concepts just at a higher level, with each lesson, being slightly longer and with more reading material. It still includes that audio link though which is a huge plus for me as so many programs remove that option for older children. The Grade 5 level also expects short paragraphs in terms of lesson review output as compared to just a few short words that is required in the Grade 2 level.

What We Didn't Like

At first logging in and getting ourselves all set up with user names for each student was a little confusing, but I contacted EdTechLens straight away and they were more than helpful in getting us all ready to go.

With each lovely photograph there is a piece of information that can either be read or listened to, however the links for the audio aren't aligned right there on the screen, so I found myself scrolling up and down a bit so that we could listen and look at the pictures at the same time. I'd love to see the audio button right there alongside the image.

Being an online program, if like me, you don't have fabulous internet, can make things a little tricky at times. This is just something to be aware with your own situation.

What We Did Like

The stunning large pictures and the audio voice overs is what makes this program so unique. We can listen to the audio and sit and discuss the images included. At times choosing to go and find more information than what is provided.

I really liked that this can be used exactly as is, as an easy supplement to your current science program. Or if you choose it can be fleshed out into one entire year long theme of study, that adds an element of audio visual, video's, photographs and voice overs to the unit.

 photo Rainforest Journey Night-Collage-3-HR_zpsqvliyytz.jpg

Looking Ahead

This has been so easy to add into our week that we will most definitely continue along with the remainder of the Rainforest Journey.

I'm very interested in seeing what other 'journey's' EdTechLens may be working on. This is a great way to add supplemental information to a larger theme that you may be studying.

Details & Pricing

A 1 year license for the Rainforest Journey program for 1 child is $50.

To see more from EdTechLens visit them via your favourite social media outlet.

Google +:

I hope you found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of Rainforest Journey from members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, please visit this link.

Happy Homeschooling,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Math U See Digital Packs Review

Over the past few weeks we have had the pleasure of reviewing Demme's Learning Math -U- See. In fact we were given a 12 month subscription to their Digital Packs for the purpose of this review. I chose to focus on the Alpha Digital pack with my youngest son.

What Is A Math-U-See Digital Pack

Demme Digital Packs are made up of the video content of the lessons that Math-U-See users know and love. The pack also includes instruction manual PDF's, skip counting songs and digital manipulatives. No more losing blocks!! Twelve months access is included with each digital pack purchase.

How We Used The Alpha Digital Pack

If you've been a reader of my blog for any length of time you already know that we love Math-U-See and I mention it often as our go to math curriculum. We already own the complete primary years lessons on DVD but when the opportunity arose for me to take a look at the digital versions I jumped at it.

Given that we are regular users of Math-U-See not a lot changed for us to review this product. The big plus was that we could sit on the couch and watch the lessons on the iPad or in front of the PC. I didn't need to go digging for the DVD. The digital pack gave us the freedom to take our math anywhere.

What We Liked About the Alpha Digital Pack

The digital manipulatives are a great idea, as I must admit we often misplace some of our blocks. Having everything digital means I don't need to keep track of all the loose bits and pieces.

We own a few iPads, which means that all of the children can be working on their Math-U-See lessons at once, no need to wait until the DVD player is free. With 3 kids all using Math-U-See at times we've had a bit of a traffic jam at the DVD player.

Although we aren't a family that lives on the road this is truly where I can see a fabulous benefit. All the lessons, all the manipulatives, right their on your iPad. Just add in a student workbook and math is sorted.

What We Didn't Like About The Alpha Digital Pack

The only real downside for us is our current internet access isn't brilliant so there were some times in the day where we had to come back to our math lessons, but that is really a personal issue and nothing to do with the product.

One of my children especially loves to watch the lessons on the large screen and prefers using the DVD's because of that. Although with today's smart TV technology most of us could also stream these straight through the internet via our televisions.

If you have a good internet connection there really isn't anything to dislike about the digital packs and I'm certain that streaming math instruction such as this has been the answer to many homeschool families prayers.

Looking Ahead

We will continue to use the digital version of Alpha as my son really enjoys having it on the iPad. At this stage, given that we already own all of the DVD's I don't think I would invest in future digital packs.

I have, however made a mental note if ever we see ourselves traveling for any length of time. I really like that math can continue uninterrupted via the digital packs.

Details & Pricing

The Alpha Digital pack is $38.00 for 12 months access.

To see more from Demme Learning visit them via your favourite social media outlet





If you have found this review helpful and would like to see further reviews of the Math-U-See Digital Packs from members of the Review Crew, please visit this link.

Happy Homeschooling,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Five On A Friday #1

So I've seen these 'five on a friday' posts floating around the blogosphere for awhile now.

Given that you all know how terribly awful I am at keeping up with any kind of regular weekly wrap style post I thought that maybe I could give this one a go.

It's short, simple and sweet, just what I need amongst the busyness of life! So I'm going with five random things I have going on right now.

In The Home

This past weekend my husband and I took a two day long photography workshop. We finally know how to use our cameras in manual mode!! That doesn't mean we are now whizz bang photographers, like anything it takes a great deal of practice, but my photo's have already improved so I'm a happy girl. Thanks Andrew from Natures Image.

In School

We've just finished our first Teen Book Club with my eldest and about eight other teens. We've spent the past six weeks discussing, reflecting on and doing various activities all around the book Tomorrow When The War Began.

When I suggested a book club I was really unsure as to how it would all pan out, but I have been pleasantly surprised as to the level interest and how much the teens have taken to it.

We've just finished watching the movie together as a group to compare the differences.

Out & About

We are all excited, getting ready for our upcoming Homeschool Family Camp which we leave for this weekend. We are heading to the country this time around and the kid can't wait!

On The Net

I've been reading over this Simple Machines Unit Study

On My Blog

I posted about a primary years writing program we've been using this past week. I have to tell you that this one is a gem. My daughter was in bed at 9pm writing, writing stories I tell you all because of this program!!

Well that was rather easy and painless. Time shall tell if I do this again in a week.

Happy Homeschooling,

P.S I know it is Saturday morning here but my internet decided to crash 3 quarters through writing this last night.

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Here To Help Learning Review

Over the past few weeks we have had the pleasure of utilising Flight 2 Paragraph Writing from Here To Help Learning, with our small group of micro school children.

We were given a 12 month membership to Here To help Learning, a homeschool writing curriculum, in order to write the following product review.

First Impressions

The Here To Help Learning website is bright, fresh and simple to navigate. The approach they take to writing is laid out right there on the main page of the website. To dig a little deeper and find out more details about the program I simply needed to click on the knowledge base link found across the top of the site.

Having a website that is easy to navigate is such a bonus when trying to get your head around a brand new curriculum product.

Exploring The Curriculum

As soon as my membership was all ready to go I logged on immediately to take a closer look around. The main lesson area is found under the Writing Tab and there I needed to decide which Flight Path I would take.

The flight paths are not grade levels, they are simply differing options that either cover Paragraph Writing or Essay Writing, depending on the level of your choice.

After watching a couple of the video lessons and laughing out loud, I might add. I decided on Flight Path 2 Paragraph Writing. I will explain in a little more detail later on why I chose that level.

Basically from there it is as simple as clicking on Lesson 1. Each lesson is completely self contained, there is no need to click all over the website to find the various components of each lesson. Oh how I love that!

So the video component and the printable worksheets and teacher lesson plans are all found right there on the one screen.

I would've liked to have been able to bring the lesson videos up on the screen individually so that when we watch them with the children there is no other visual clutter around the video screen, but that's a very minor inconvenience.

How We Have Used Here To Help Learning

I was quite excited when I realised that I could try this out in our micro school setting. Anyone that runs classes in this type of environment at all understands how tricky it is to find programs that are easily utilised in a group of varying aged (and abilities) children.

We have 8 children in this group, all of primary school age, with the youngest being 5 years old. We all work on the lessons together exactly as Mora does them with her group on the video. The variations in ages and abilities was my reason for choosing Paragraph Writing. I wanted to ensure that everyone had all of the great groundwork covered in the writing process before moving on to the Eassy level of the program.

In general we don't often take on subjects from the 3R's in our micro school setting because it's just too tricky but the Paragraph Writing program from Here To Help Learning has been an absolute pleasure to use with the kids.

What I liked most is the fact that Miss Mora, on more than one occasion, points out how to use the lesson with children of varying levels. She even offers them challenges to take on with their writing, whether they are barely writing at all and need an adult to scribe for them or even if they are filling pages with their stories. Any primary school aged child truly can use this course. If I had to point out something negative it would only be that if you have a child that is an avid writer that it may be a little on the slow side, but for that child I would simply complete more lessons in a week to speed the process up some.

My daughter working on her 1st Rough Draft

Each lesson is gentle, whilst introducing new concepts and all the while re-enforcing the writing process. We have just completed our first full rotation of the writing process, beginning from an idea to a complete published piece. Each step is a single lesson, with a video component and a small amount of written work, which we generally do as homework for the week.

All but one of the lessons we have been able to complete together within an hour. This takes a little longer for us as we have 8 children, so when we are playing games like "Sentence, No Sentence' everyone wants a piece of the action so it takes just a little longer than if we were working through this on our own.

In saying that though I love that we have the group, the kids really enjoy doing this together, playing the games, watching and laughing at Miss Mora, who by the way is incredibly funny and a just a little bit cheesy. The videos are highly engaging and she really ensures everything is easy to understand. The kids all bounce ideas off each other and are really working together to help each other out with their new found writing skills.

In terms of teacher preparation, there is very little. I always try to watch the video a few days before class so I know exactly what to expect. The only other thing I need to do is print the required worksheets for that particular lesson. It really is that simple. Miss Mora does all the work for me.

Lesson Structure

I wanted to spend more time on the actual lessons and detail how they are structured. Each week the lessons operate with a predictable pattern.

The video opens with an introduction, a quick checklist of the materials required and a gentle attitude reminder for the students.

Then it moves into learning new content, if you are on the first lesson of the writing process, if not you are practicing the content learned in that first lesson.

From there the video lesson moves you into the writing warm up. The students are given a funny picture prompt, the group brainstorms together some words that they may like to use in their writing. A timer is set and they have complete freedom to write as much or as little as they wish during the writing warm up time.

Then it's time for the writing process. Together the group works out where they are in the step by step writing process. For example, brainstorming, list making, rough drafts or maybe publishing to name a few. That stage of the writing process then becomes the focus for the remainder of the lesson.

I really like how this is structured. It is predictable, gentle and easy for both the adults and children to follow along with. It has been an absolute breeze to use within the group.

The group all with their first complete writing pieces....smiles all round!

Looking Ahead

This is one review product that we will most definitely be adding into our regular school routine. We have already discussed with our micro school group the possibility of taking the kids through the Essay Writing component of the program next year.

Parent Resources

A forum is provided on their website if any questions arise whilst using the program. There are also a large variety of resources linked on the Resource tab at the top of the website. From Language Helps Booklets, to Master Supply lists and Teachers Guides.

Details & Pricing

Visit the Here To Help Learning website to find out more details.

To see more from Here To Help Learning you can visit them on your favourite social media outlet

YouTube Channel:

There are several options when it comes to purchasing this homeschool writing program. Full teacher kits are available as a physical product or you can access everything via the subscription option, which is what we have been using here at home.

I hope you have found this review helpful. If you would like to see further reviews of Here To Help Teaching from members of the crew, please visit this link.

Happy Homeschooling,

Come on over and join me at

Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Google + 

Have you looked at my Pinterest Boards lately?

Visit Our Worldwide Classroom's profile on Pinterest.

Crew Disclaimer
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Blog Design by: Relevant Designs