Archive | August, 2020

Review-Reading Eggs

31 Aug

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.

We recently received a one-year online family membership to Blake eLearning Inc. This membership includes access for up to four students to such popular programs as Reading Eggs Junior (for ages 2-4), Reading Eggs (for ages 3-7), Reading Eggspress (for ages 7-13), Math Seeds (ages 5-10), and Fast Phonics (ages 5-10.)

These websites include colorful graphics, fun learning games, and books to read. Students are able to design their own personalized avatars to be used throughout the games. They can also earn eggs that can be spent on furnishings for their digital house, accessories for their avatars and pets, and even play video games in an arcade. In one of the newer features, there is even a monthly theme in which items specific to that month can be purchased with eggs.

In our family, The Little Guy has been mostly using Reading Eggs (which is more for beginning readers) and Fast Phonics (which is phonics and sight word practice), while The Boy and The Girlio have spent their time in Reading Eggspress (mostly reading comprehension.)

Once I decided which program was right for each of them, they were able to take placement tests to place them at the correct lesson starting points.

The Little Guy ended up starting at lesson 41 in Reading Eggs, I chose to start The Boy at the very beginning of Reading Eggspress, and The Girlio started at lesson 101 in Reading Eggspress.

With three students using the same website, I really appreciated how easy it was to set up accounts for each of them, and be able to view each from a central family dashboard.

From there, it was easy for each kiddo to just click the tab with their name on it, and the start button where they could pick up right were they left off.

I can also click their tab and view stats on their progress. In Reading Eggs, this includes the Little Guy’s current reading age, and the number of phonics skills and sight words he knows. It also shows me what he has recently completed, and even how many quizzes he has taken (including the percentage correct), and how many fiction and non-fiction books he has read. It’s a very detailed dashboard, and a great snapshot where I can easily see progress.

In Reading Eggspress, this is taken a step further. Not only can I see the quizzes taken and books read, but things are broken down even further into progress in Literal, Inferential, Vocabulary and Usage, and Text Analysis and Critical Literacy categories.

I also get emails when they complete levels. I like this, because even though I am not sitting at the computer with them, I can instantly give them praise for their accomplishments when I see the emails.

While these sites can definitely be used as a supplement to Language Arts and Math programs, there are also plenty of bonus materials available to extend learning opportunities.

You can find Homeschool Worksheets, Color Activity Pages, Spelling practice, and additional Spelling, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Usage Olympic-style games.

In the new Fast Phonics, students climb mountain peaks with their yeti friend and fur balls by watching fun videos, completing activities, and reading books while practicing their Phonics skills. In this adorable world, kids practice letter sounds, letter and word recognition, and reading.

And finally, there is Math Seeds, where students watch fun cartoon-style videos, and complete exercises going over basic math skills.

As you can see, there are tons of fun and educational activities within the Blake eLearning Inc. websites!

I really like how easy it is to track the kids’ progress. I also love that my kids are volunteering to do reading comprehension! If I handed them worksheets, you would hear the groans for miles, but package it in fun graphics and video-game styled activities, and it’s a whole new world!

Fast Phonics is fun as well. So far, it has been relatively easy for my six-year old (he finished Peak One in less than an hour), but he is enjoying it and the characters are so cute and silly.

It would probably be perfect for a kindergartner or first grader, but for him it’s still great review. I am sure it will get harder as he goes too. You know it’s enjoyable when I sat next to him for an hour straight, and I still thought it was entertaining.

The Little Guy’s favorite part was definitely Fast Phonics. He liked Reading Eggs too, but said sometimes it got a little boring because the activities repeated themselves.

The Boy liked that he got to do fun games and watch videos. He liked that they show you how to do everything. And, he really liked the trading cards because you can trade them for better stuff.

The Girlio liked that she got to review reading comprehension because it was hard for her in the past, and now she says it is easier. She liked the activities, but wished there was more variety in the levels. She liked the pets, and especially the trading cards.

Overall, these programs are a fun and easy way to practice reading and math skills. I would add one caveat-as this is a secular program, do please be aware that some of the reading comprehension books include secular references-i.e. dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, etc.

Would you like to learn more about Blake eLearning Inc.? Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews!

Book Review-North! Or Be Eaten

30 Aug

North! Or Be Eaten is a middle-grade novel written by Andrew Peterson and is book two in The Wingfeather Saga. This is not a stand alone book. You need to read the first one to understand and enjoy this one.

Summary: The Wingfeather family has been hiding out in Pete the Sock Man’s castle for as long as they can. Now they must flee to the Ice Prairies or risk being captured by the Fangs.

But the journey is not an easy one. A dangerous forest, monsters, Stranders, Fangs, Trolls, and evil men stand in between them and the Ice Prairies. Can the Wingfeather family make it there safely, or will the family be splintered apart forever?

My Thoughts: I liked this book much better than the first one. I think because I listened to the first as an audio book, it was a little different. Also, this series really is entering a whole new world. Andrew Peterson is an extremely creative writer and has imagined an entirely new world of characters, settings, and beasts. It takes a bit to get into the story and what is happening.

This second book is packed with action, drama, and an epic journey filled with perils. I especially enjoyed the monster illustrations with the humorous descriptions.

This book is well-written and easy to follow. There are tons of interesting characters and battles. I think adults and kids 12 and up will enjoy this book, and probably boys even younger would like it too.

The only caveat-the author has SUCH a good imagination, the monsters are pretty creepy. If you have a kid that is squeamish, or scares easily, this book might not be the one for them. Even I got a little grossed out by one of the monsters-yuck!

That being said, I enjoyed the book, and have already started the next one!

I would like to thank WaterBrook & Multnomah for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my review. Thank you!

Audiobook Review-The Silver Arrow

29 Aug

The Silver Arrow is a middle-grade novel written by Lev Grossman.

Summary: Kate leads an ordinary life. In an ordinary family. And, to be honest, she’s kind of bored with the whole thing.

Looking to change things up, she writes a letter to her Uncle Herbert asking for a birthday present. She’s never met him before, but surely, SURELY that will spice things up-won’t it?

What she doesn’t expect, is Uncle Herbert at her door the very next day with a full-size steam engine train as a present. And little does she know-but this present will change her life forever.

My Thoughts: This is a wonderfully fun story. A magic train, talking animals, humor, imagination, and even some very important life lessons about caring and responsibility are all woven into a fantastic adventure that kids (and even adults) will enjoy.

The narrator, Simon Vance, was a good choice for this audio book as well. He has a wonderful cadence to his reading, and a good sense of timing-especially during the humorous sections. I also enjoyed the various voices he used for the different animals.

This would be the perfect car trip audio book, or even just one kids will enjoy curling up to listen to at night. I really liked it, and would like to listen to it again. This time with a couple of kids tucked in close.

I would like to thank Hachette Audio for providing me with a free digital audio book in exchange for my review. Thank you!!

*Please note this book will be released on September 1, 2020.

Kid Craft Friday

28 Aug

Today I thought I would show you some of the kids’ recent projects.

First up, lots of K’nex creatures by The Little Guy:

Aren’t they fun?

A couple of The Boy’s cards:

And a card by The Girlio:

She used the Ralph Masiello fairy book as a guide for this one. It turned out so cute!

Well, that’s it from me-have a great weekend!

Pinterest Thursday-First Day of School Activities

27 Aug

We have quite a few traditions for the first day of school.

We always watch this video called “Don’t Give Up’ by Bruno Mars and the Sesame Street gang.

Sesame Street: Bruno Mars sings Don't Give Up.  This is adorable =)

pin found here

We also watch Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller, and read some back-to-school books. Some of our favorites are Pout Pout Fish Goes to School,
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come, The Giving Tree, and Morris Goes to School. I usually find a few more in our stash, or from the library and we read a few a day for the first week.

We take back to school pictures in the same spot every year, so I can see how much they have grown. I got a letter board for Christmas last year, so this year I added that into the group picture.

I also find some type of “All About Me” page from Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers. Here is the one we used this year.

Space Themed All About Me Back to School Activities {Google Classroom Able}

pin found here

I also look for some type of fun activity. This year I found a Back-to-School Mad Libs. We had a bunch of fun with it.

Have your new students practice their basic parts of speech with a Back to School Mad Libs activity! Appropriate for 2nd-5th grade, students can work alone or with a partner to show their knowledge of nouns, verbs and adjectives in a fun and silly Mad Libs story. Great for 2nd-5th grades; My 4th...

pin found here

And, we do some type of art project. You can see more details about our art project in last Thursday’s post.

Cassie Stephens: Origami Ocean Collage!

pin found here

We try to take it pretty easy the first few days of school, and having some traditions we always do helps ease us into the new school year.

Even when we don’t quite feel ready to say goodbye to summer, after the first few days of our routine, we get back into the groove pretty fast. 🙂