Friday, July 31, 2009

Grapevine Studies Review

My latest review for the Homeschool Crew is the Grapevine Studies Bible Curriculum. I chose to review the Level 2, New Testament for Emily, age 9. Level 2 is written for 8 to 10 year olds. The consumable student book sells for $25.95 and the teacher’s guide for $35.95. An e-book format, 3-hole-punch format, and a color version of the teacher’s guide are also available.

L2NTSGrapevine Studies claims to be “a Bible study curriculum that engages the intellect while stimulating the imagination.” Through the use of Bible timelines and easy-to-follow lessons, the curriculum offers studies for ages 5 to adult.

Each lesson is divided into 4 parts, which are to be spread over 4 days, although they can be combined into a longer single lesson for weekly Sunday School or Bible study classes. The first is a review lesson, the next two are Bible reading and stick figure drawing, and the fourth part is a memory work and “character/event” card creation.

When I told Emily about the Grapevine study, she was excited to begin. She is eager to do the lesson each day and seems to be retaining the information well. We have been doing a 15 minute lesson each night before bed this summer, although when our official school year starts in a few weeks, I will probably include this as part of our school day.

DSC07433 DSC07434

What I like:

--The stick figure drawing of each event—This keeps my daughter engaged and helps her retain the informati0n better. She is enjoying color coding her drawings.

--The built-in reviews—every lesson has a review of the time line and of the past two weeks’ Bible verses and a question and answer review is inserted after every fifth lesson.

--It is easy to teach. I just need to look over the Bible passage, grab my supplies and go!

--The study of the Bible is thorough and chronological. I love the idea that Emily will know all the major events and topics of the New Testament a year from now!

I like the weekly memory verses and the other memory work—books of the Bible, Apostle’s Creed, etc.

--The Grapevine materials are adaptable for use in home schools, Christian schools, or Sunday Schools.

What I don’t like as much:

--The color coding of the drawing is supposed to be important, but the printed teacher’s manual is in black and white with no coloring suggestions other than to use purple to depict God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I was able to find more detailed coloring suggestions at the Grapevine website, however, so I printed that out.

--There were a number of typographical and content errors in the instructions of the teacher’s guide (for example “Old Testament” instead of “New Testament” or “Level 3” instead of “Level 2.” I understand that revisions of the books are now underway, so assume that these errors will all be corrected in the next printing. The errors weren’t significant, but enough to be slightly confusing when I was trying to learn how to use the study.

I would have liked a little more direction from the author on a few points. For example—what to do with the character/event cards? Rubber band them all and use as a quiz? We decided to just tape them into the book at the corresponding lesson.


I think this is a very good Bible study program. It is innovative in its approach to teaching the Bible. It strictly teaches (at least in Level 2) the stories of the Bible without any additional analysis or application. This could be positive or negative, depending on what your needs are. We plan to continue with the study throughout the year. Emily is enjoying it and I think that she will learn a LOT and finish the year with an excellent knowledge of the New Testament.

*** SPECIAL OFFER! Grapevine Studies is offering a 30% discount on all their products until August 30 with code, “acrew.”

To read more reviews of Grapevine Bible Studies, visit the The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew site.

Monday, July 27, 2009

How to Produce the K and G sounds

Does your child have trouble making the K and G sounds? Here are some ideas to help you teach these sounds.

To produce the K and G sounds, the back part of the tongue is raised and pressed against the roof of the mouth (soft palate), stopping all airflow. The front of the tongue is lowered. The tongue then drops, allowing the air that has been held behind the tongue to escape suddenly. The K is voiceless, produced by airflow. The G is produced with the voice “on.”

Tips: 1.Demonstrate the sound in front of a mirror. Use a spoon or popsicle stick to touch the back of the tongue and the soft palate to help the child feel how the sound is made. (Be cautious about triggering the gag reflex as you do this.) Have the child put his hand, paper, or a feather close to the lips to feel or see the puffs of air. 2.Strengthen the back of the tongue and help the child identify the part of the tongue to be raised by pressing downward on the back of the tongue with a spoon while the child tries to push upward. 3.Have the child attempt to say T while you hold the tongue tip down. 4.Play listening games to help the child practice discriminating between T and K or between D and G. (“Is this a dog?” “Is this a gog?”) 5.Exaggerate the target sound when modeling it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Super Star Game Giveaway


Silly Snail cover Planets cover road to revolution cover

Our family loves games. I can’t begin to count how many we own! Over the years, we have collected quite a few educational games—science, geography, Latin and Greek roots, math, etc. and enjoy using them as part of our homeschool day. Earlier this year, I started designing my own games to reinforce some of the things that we were studying. Emily loves the “game” part of our day and I have been amazed at how well she learns and retains information when she is having fun. I have published these games in e-book format and they are sold at I am offering a free game in a giveaway to two winners. To enter:

1. REQUIRED Visit Currclick and leave a comment telling me which game you would like if you win. There are 8 different games to choose from. Be sure to leave your email.


2. Blog about this giveaway and give me the link.

3. Give me a new educational game idea or topic that you would like to see me design.

4. Follow my blog.

Leave a comment for each entry. Winner will be chosen on August 20.

Bonus deal: If you purchase any of my games or speech therapy books at Currclick, I will send you a link for a free game or book of equal or lesser value. Send me an email ( telling me your order number and what you would like for your free item. (Offer is good until Aug. 20)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hank the Cowdog

image We received several Hank the Cowdog products from Maverick Books to review this week—a Tornado game , a paperback book—The Case of the One-Eyed Stud Horse and Hank’s Tales and Tunes cd. Emily was quite excited to open this box of goodies!

I have heard of the Hank the Cowdog series of books, and I know that some families love them, but we had personally never seen the series, so I was interested to see what they were all about.

Hank is a bungling, blustering “cowdog,” who lives on a Texas ranch and has all sorts of silly adventures.

The Case of the One-Eyed Stud Horse ($4.24) by John Erickson

I found this to be a delightful book. There was not an involved plot in this particular book, just a simple story packed with wonderful imagination and humor! This book is very funny. Hank is so “full of himself,” so sure that he is in charge of making sure the entire ranch runs smoothly, and so absolutely incompetent one can’t help but laugh. I found life from the viewpoint of a dog quite amusing as Hank described the humans’ “irrational” behavior. I think children as young as five would enjoy these books, but there is a lot of humor aimed at older children and adults as well. I found Hank's constant use of scrambled proverbs and metaphors funny. “You can’t toot your own horn if you’ve only got one string on your fiddle.” “Don’t count your chickens before they cross the road.” And so on.

Tornado game ($12.99)


The Tornado game is very similar to Trouble or Aggravation. Each player has 3 characters (Hank, Drover, and Junior the Buzzard) who have to make their way around the board. There are a few twists to the game—“tornado” spaces that can send a player forward or back, and a separate starting point on the board for the buzzard. Players can land on each other to send the other back to “start.” I love the game board! It is colorful and the adorable playing pieces fit into holes as they move around the board. The compact board folds for travel and holds all the pieces inside. My only complaint about the game is that our spinner was sticking. That was frustrating as we played the game.

The game also came with an audio cassette that was an abbreviated version of The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado.

Tales and Tunes cd ($3.00)

The Tales and Tunes cd contains excerpts from the stories and songs from various books. My 9 year old loved this cd. My older girls (17 and 21) hated it and begged to turn it off! Obviously the music targets a certain age group! I enjoyed the recordings and think they added a lot to the story—the Texas accents, folksy humor and ranch talk was even better when listened to aloud. I can certainly see the attraction of the audio tapes and cds and think they would be fun to listen to on car trips. However, I did have a few problems with the cd. Emily’s favorite song is “A Pox on Emily Post,” sung by Junior the Buzzard. Now hearing a buzzard sing about how he hates manners is quite amusing. I don’t care for it so much when my 9 year old is singing it around the house. Another song bothered me much more, however, with lines like, “If you don’t like this song, we’ll beat you up” and “you may think we’re dumb and stupid.” These are all sung by the animal characters, but still….


The Hank the Cowdog series is entertaining and well worth checking out for elementary-aged children. The stories are both fun and contain good morals. Parents may want to pre-screen the books and cd’s however, if they are concerned that their children may imitate the questionable language.

To read more reviews of Hank the Cowdog, visit the TOS Homeschool Crew!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sense and Sensibility Sewing Patterns

I was not familiar with the Sense and Sensibility company until I was given the opportunity to review their patterns. Jennie Chancey, the owner/ designer of Sense and Sensibility offers a wide variety of historically inspired dress patterns for women and girls. I really enjoyed just looking through their website at all the photos!

The pattern I was offered was the Edwardian apron pattern for girls. Emily (9) has been asking to learn to sew, so I decided that this would be a great opportunity to begin teaching her. I have done quite a bit of sewing, but Emily has never done any machine sewing herself. I received the pattern in pdf format along with an e-class.

DSC07402 First, I printed the 25 pattern pages, laid them out on the floor, and taped the pages together. Then I was able to actually cut out the pieces. The instructions for doing this were very clear and the process was easy to do. The directions suggested tracing the pattern onto interfacing for greater durability. We chose not to do that since we will probably be using the pattern only once or twice. One neat feature of the e-pattern is that, since it is in PDF format, it is easy to shrink down dramatically to make a doll-size pattern. What fun to have matching aprons for a little girl and her doll! Maybe that will be my next project….

We did make one modification to the pattern. I used the size 8, but made the length of a size 4. This is a very long apron style and we wanted it a bit shorter. The hem still falls slightly below the knee.

DSC07408Emily and I watched the e-class together before beginning the project. I think it was helpful for her to see the steps before we attempted them. I expected the class to explain the directions fully, but I think we should have read the pattern directions first, then watched the class because I found myself a bit lost at a couple points. Because I have sewn a lot, I didn’t find the class necessary, but I think that a novice seamstress would find it very helpful. I especially thought the video segments were well done and very helpful.

DSC07415 This pattern required a lot of binding edges. I thought this would be too difficult for Emily, so I did the binding and let her do the straight seams and hems. She also did most of the ironing, which she loved. Go figure! I think I’ve found a new chore for her! She enjoyed learning to use the sewing machine as well. I will have to look for some more easy sewing projects.

The finished apron!

DSC07417 The class gave very explicit instructions for making one’s own bias tape. I thought that was a nice touch, although we chose to use contrasting purchased bias tape instead. (The yardage specified on the pattern was too little, however; we needed twice as much bias tape as the directions listed!) Overall, this was a great project. The finished apron was lovely, the instructions were clear, and the e-class was an innovative addition to the sewing process.

The pattern sells for $7.95 for the e-pattern and $12.95 for the printed pattern. The e-class is $19.95 or $24.95 for the e-class with e-pattern included.

You can read more reviews of this product at

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Is My Child Stuttering?

Many children go through normal periods of disfluency around ages 2-4. This usually occurs during periods of rapid vocabulary acquisition. Children typically repeat words and syllables, especially when excited or talking rapidly. In some children, this normal developmental disfluency develops into true stuttering, which can be a lifelong struggle. The trick for speech pathologists is to identify which children would benefit from therapy in order to “cure” or minimize the problem early. Almost all stutterers begin stuttering before the age of five and it is very important to begin therapy early to remediate the problem.

Please read the rest of this post on my Super Star Speech blog.