Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Emily’s New Desk

Until now, Emily has been using a child sized desk for her schoolwork. (Well, officially—she often actually works at the kitchen table or even on the floor!). Now that she’s approaching 5 feet tall, her old desk is getting a big small. Plus, she’s complained that the hard bench is uncomfortable.


We have a built-in corner desk in our study that has never really been used much. It’s served as storage and a plug-in/ charging station for phones, pencil sharpener, postal scale, and so on. Just a general catch-all area. So I spent last week fixing up this area to be Emily’s new school desk.

I added a white board and a larger bulletin board and painted them to match the room. Since the desk area is small, I cleared most of the “stuff” off, just leaving a pencil cup and organizer for flashcards and such. The drawer holds paper, glue sticks, tape, etc.

The shelf above the desk now holds a box of craft supplies and is home to the pencil sharpener, phone, and chargers. Her books will be stored in our former workbox drawers.

Although the change looks pretty minimal, this project sparked an organizing project that included MY desk drawers and craft and school supplies stored in the kitchen as well!

Before (with some of the clutter removed!)




Desk and New “Subject Boxes”



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Our Curriculum Choices for 2013-14

This is our curriculum plan for 8th grade:
  • No Nonsense Algebra (We started this last year and will be continuing with it.)
  • Life of Fred Algebra (Yes, we have two algebra programs, but the formats are very different, and I think they will reinforce each other. And Emily loves Life of Fred!)
Language Arts:
  • Excellence in Literature and Lightening Literature, American  (We’ll be alternating units from both of these.) Jane Eyre is our first literature study—one of my favorite books ever!
  • Art of Poetry
  • Student Writing Intensive B
  • Word Roots B
  • Apologia Physical Science
  • Supercharged Science (for extra experiments)
  • Romans, Reformers and Revolutionaries and World Missions, World Empires, and World Wars (Diana Waring) with lots of extra books, videos, etc. We’re studying the Renaissance now and will get as far as we can (maybe early 20th century?)
  • Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Europe (Memoria Press)
  • Bible Study For All Ages (We’re currently starting and reviewing the first 26 lessons of this program. I may purchase the rest of the program or we may resume The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study Bible Survey that we’ve been using the past two years.
  • We’re about to start a 7 week Crew review of Homeschool Spanish Academy.
  • Spanish for Children (Classical Academic Press) I just bought the Primer A workbook for this and plan to work through it quickly because it has a great focus on grammar. Emily has a lot of vocabulary, but hasn’t seriously studied Spanish grammar and verb conjugation. I’m hoping to work through Primer A in the fall and purchase Primer B with the DVDs for second semester.
  • Spanish for You! Estaciones We started this in the spring and will finish up this program as well.
We’ll also be supplementing with various Schoolhouse Crew review products. Looks like a full year!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Teaching School-Age Children to Follow Directions

directions school

The ability to listen,  to comprehend, and to follow directions is a critical skill for children to develop. This skill is relevant in many areas of life, particularly in the areas of schoolwork and developing personal responsibility.

There are actually many components in learning to follow directions. The child must:

  • Pay attention and listen to the speaker

  • Understand what the speaker is saying

  • Be able to keep the directions in his memory.

  • Translate the spoken instructions into action and carry them out.

If a child has difficulty with any of these, he will not be successful in carrying out multi-part instructions. It is important to figure where the breakdown is occurring and to focus on that area. Practice will definitely help!

The following activities are excerpted from my book Language Lessons, which is packed with games and activities to enhance skills in listening, comprehending, and producing language.


Following Directions

Look for opportunities during daily life for your child to follow directions. When expecting your child to complete a complex job, such as cleaning his room, or setting the table, give him one instruction at a time. If he is able to complete each small task accurately, challenge him by giving him two directions at a time, (“Hang up your coat and put your shoes in the closet.”)

· Play games like "Simon Says" and "Mother May I?"

· Sing and play, "Hokey, Pokey."


Have the following objects available: chair, table, book, ball, block, door, spoon, and bowl. Ask your child to follow these directions:

1-Step Commands:

· Read the book.

· Pick up the block.

· Tap the block with the spoon.

· Walk to the door.

· Close your eyes.

· Clap your hands 3 times.

· Put the block under the table.

2-Step Commands:

· Sit down and cross your legs.

· Say your name; blink your eyes.

· Pick up the block. Give it to me.

· Clap your hands. Point to the ball.

· Touch the book. Crawl under the table.

· Put the book under the chair, then turn around.

· Throw the ball at the door, then bring it back.

· Hide the block under the bowl. Put the spoon on top of the bowl.

· Pick up the spoon. Then sit on the chair.

· Put the spoon in the bowl and pretend to stir.

·3-Step Commands:

· Touch your ear, stomp your foot, then sit down.

· Touch the book. Touch the spoon. Touch the table.

· Touch the block. Point to the spoon. Tap the table.

· Touch your ear. Touch your nose. Spin around.

· Pick up the ball. Hold it over your head. Put it on the floor.

· Close your eyes. Spin around. Say, "hello."

· Put the book in front of the door, the book under the table, and the spoon on top of the table.

· Put the spoon in the bowl. Stir it around. Turn the bowl upside down.

· Clap your hands. Touch your nose. Bend your knees.

· Put the book on the ground. Sit on it. Touch your knee.

· Put the spoon on the book. Put them both under the table. Then put them on the chair.

· Pat your head. Touch your toes. Stomp your foot.

· Tap the table with the spoon, then with the pencil. Then put them down.

· Put the book on the spoon. Put the bowl on the book. Put the block on the bowl.

· Hide the bowl under the book. Put the block and spoon next to the door.

Give your child a piece of paper and crayons or markers. Give the following directions for him to follow. Use a separate page for each set of directions.

· Draw a big red circle. Draw 3 small red circles inside it. Draw a brown triangle in each corner of your page.

· Draw a large red square on your paper. Inside the square, draw a yellow circle. Draw a brown line below the square. Make a red squiggly line below the brown line.

·Write your name. Draw a circle around the first letter of your name. Draw a line under the last letter of your name. Draw a big red box around your whole name. Then draw a blue box around the red box.

Give your child directions to draw a picture. Either draw the picture yourself at the same time or have another child draw the picture. Compare the 2 pictures. Examples:

· Draw green grass along the bottom of your paper. Draw a yellow sun in the sky. Draw a gray road across the middle of the paper. Draw a blue car and a green truck on the road. Draw a green tree next to the road.

Ask your child to follow these directions:

· Hold out your right hand.

· Touch your left ear.

· Turn in a circle to the right.

· Gallop 3 steps to the left.

· Jump to the left; jump to the right.

· Walk forward 3 steps, then take 2 steps to the right.

· Slide to the left, then jump backward 3 times.

· Take 2 giant steps to the right and 2 tiny hops forward.

· Bend to the right; bend to the left; bend forward.

· Lie on your right side; lift your left leg in the air.

This is just a sampling of the “Following Directions” chapter of Language Lessons. I hope it will give you some ideas for working with your child to enhance listening and following directions skills.

Language Lessons and the series of Super Star Speech books, which focus on articulation disorders, are available at Superstarspeech.com.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Christi the Coupon Coach (Molly Review)

 photo christithecouponcoachlogo_zpsbe2a70cc.png

Have you ever watched or read about “extreme couponers” and wondered if it could be done by a regular person? Well, probably not to the extremes that make it to TV, but the principles will work for almost anyone to help save on grocery and personal items.

I am already a sale shopper and couponer, but was interested to read Christi the Coupon Coach: Couponing Made Simple ($18.00 print, Kindle ed. $4.99), by Christi Bassford, to see if I could pick up some more tips!

 photo christithecouponcoachbook_zpsfd7911d1.jpg

In her book, Christi describes the two rules of couponing:

  • Buy on sale
  • Stack coupons

She then explains where to find coupons; which coupons, rebates, and other savings programs can be combined for the same items; and teaches her system for organizing her coupons and shopping lists. The book has many photos and examples of deals that she was able to make.

Honestly, I didn’t learn a lot from the book because I’ve been doing this for a while. But it did motivate me to step up my game and put a little more effort into what I’m doing in order to save more! I do think that this book is an excellent introduction to someone wanting to start out with couponing. Although much of the same information can be found online, here it is laid out in a clear organized manner that will help a novice couponer jump right in and start saving money.

Here is a picture of my recent (and typical) Publix shopping trips. (I forgot to put some of the produce in the photo, so I actually got a little more than is shown). This trip was admittedly a bit heavy on the sweets, but it evens out—some weeks I get a lot of soups, pasta, and frozen vegetables instead.


  • Regular price: $98.58
  • I paid: $36.13 (63% savings)

This is a CVS Pharmacy trip from the same day:


  • Regular price: $29.52
  • I paid $1.94 (plus $7 CVS extrabucks from a previous purchase) and received $3 in CVS bucks toward my next purchase. The deodorant was free and the shampoo came to $1.37 each. I combined manufacturer coupons, CVS coupons (printed at the register and the kiosk) and extra bucks on all the items.

And another Publix trip…


  • Regular price: $107.25
  • I paid: $30.49 (72% savings!)

Personally, I can’t IMAGINE paying $100 a week for groceries for 3 people. That’s just not in our budget!

Will this work for you?

  • The best deals can be made with grocery stores with good sales and that double coupons and/or accept competitor coupons.
  • It’s harder to find great deals on produce and meat (I buy on sale, but seldom have coupons), especially organic items. If you don’t or can’t eat any processed foods, your options will be limited and your savings smaller.
  • Couponing can be time consuming. My shopping trips are quick because I know exactly what I need—I drove to and shopped at the 2 stores above in just over an hour. But I spent much more than an hour planning my lists and finding and clipping coupons. ( If you consider the money saved, the time spent can equate to a well paying job, though.)

If you’d like to try, I do recommend Christi Bassford’s book, Christi the Coupon Coach, as a good introduction to the topic.


I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cross Country Cafe

Donut Shop Classics Double Dipped Chocolate ground coffeeBuild Your Own Box of Extra Bold Keurig Kcup coffee
I was recently introduced to Cross Country CafĂ©, a site that sells Keurig Brewers, K-cups, and regular coffee in a huge variety of flavors. They kindly sent me a package of their Donut Shop Classics Double Dipped Chocolate Coffee ($9.50) to review. Yum! The coffee was excellent, not at all bitter, and really did taste like a chocolate donut. I really like flavored coffees, so I’d like to try their Chocolate Coconut Cake and Cinnamon Coffee Cake flavors next!
I’ve noticed that their regular prices are good, too. I know my daughter is always on the lookout for good deals on K-Cups. The regular price for 24 ct. boxes is $13.75 and they run frequent specials as well.
Wacky Wednesday Coffee Sale!
Each week, there is a “Wacky Wednesday sale. This week's bargains are:
Keurig B145 Kcup brewer at a $20.00 discount PLUS  a free 12 count sample pack of Kcup coffee!
Keurig B145 Coffee Brewer
Rooibos Red Keurig Kcup tea- $9.99 per box of 24!
Twinings African Rooibos Red Tea Keurig Kcups
Twinings African Rooibos Keurig K-cups are chock full of antioxidants. Naturally caffeine free with a pleasant sweetness. P.S. This tea tastes great brewed over ice!
Green Mountain Wild Mountain Blueberry Kcup coffee- $11.99 per box of 24!
Green Mountain Blueberry Keurig Kcup coffee
Tastes like a buttery, blueberry pie nicely wrapped in a delicious Keurig Kcup coffee crust!
Huge selection of Keurig K-cups and gourmet coffee pods at rock bottom prices!

Organizing Books for the New Year

A couple of weeks ago, I emptied my curriculum shelves to assess what we had. Here is most of what I have for Emily for next year…certainly far more than I need!  And this isn’t even counting our bookshelf full of history books! I’ve been blessed with a lot of this through the Schoolhouse Crew.  Some are books that I used with my older children. Plus, there are a few things I’ve purchased more recently.

So much great stuff to use and so little time!

I pulled out the items that we realistically weren’t going to get to this year and organized everything else.  This shelf holds books that we’ll be using soon.


This cabinet holds books that I plan to use this year, but probably not in the next couple of months.


We’ve been using workboxes for a few years, but Emily has decided that she would rather just get her assignments from my daily lesson plans and check them off as she does them. So I repurposed the workboxes. I made labels for different subject areas and we will now have a drawer to hold the books and materials for each subject. I’m hoping this will eliminate some of the “I can’t find my math book” crises if we can manage to keep each item in its “home”!


Next project—organizing the desk area!

Monday, July 15, 2013

25 Truths (Schoolhouse Review)

 photo 25book_zpsac9dca24.jpg

25 Truths: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us ($12.50), by Ed Douglas Publications is a short inspirational book that is especially appropriate for teens and young adults. Older elementary aged children would enjoy it too. Each chapter focuses on one “truth.” Some of these truths are:

  • Be slow to judge.
  • Be quick to apologize.
  • See the glass as half full.
  • Never surrender.
  • Utilize compound interest.
  • Commit to love one person forever.

Each 3-4 page chapter opens with one or  more quotes about the topic from the Bible, a work of literature, or a famous person. Then, Ed Douglas discusses the importance of the principal, giving plenty of real-life examples. The chapter closes with a short summary of the principal and several discussion questions.

I will admit, I thought this would be a pleasant read, with a bit of good advice. I found it to be much more than that! Emily and I have been reading one chapter aloud each night before bed. Many of the chapters are exactly what she has needed to hear, addressing character issues that are particular issues right now. (I won’t embarrass her by telling which ones!)  She has even commented that the author seems to “know what she has been doing that day!”  Other chapters (like the one extolling the praises of compound interest) are less interesting to her, but still provide valuable information that I might not have thought to teach her.  She told me that this chapter was “boring” when we read it over a week ago, but just this morning, she told me that she wanted to invest some of her money so it would grow! SmileSo, she is actually thinking about our discussions!

Some of the examples were interesting to Emily; some were less so. Douglas does talk quite a bit about his experience in the business world, especially about his job as a banker. These are quite relevant for an adult, but not quite so much for a 13 year old! Some chapters do speak of his experience as a youth or college student and Emily found these more interesting.

I love the concise chapter titles and short summaries that are perfect for review, since each night, we review some of the previous principals. Emily likes to see how many she can remember and name without looking.

One thing I have done with the book is to look for additional Bible verses that support many of the themes and to write them in the book to read or discuss when we read that particular chapter. I’ve appreciated all of the quotes, but have been able to make the book more of a “devotional time” with the addition of more scripture.

I highly recommend this book for family discussions or devotions!


I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mayan Mysteries Game (Schoolhouse Review)

Dig-it Games On-line App photo dig-itgames-mayanmysteries_zps7a4409ab.jpeg

A looter has been digging up Maya sites, clearly looking for something specific. Could it be the mystifying Ladrone, a secretive thief with a history of stealing artifacts? Whoever it is, it’s up to Team Q to stop it!

Does that grab your attention? Or your child’s? Through an online computer game, Mayan Mysteries Online Game, by Dig-It Games, teaches about the Mayan culture – decoding glyphs, the Mayan calendar, history, and more.  It also teaches quite a bit about archeology—the tools used, what artifacts are, and how they are found in layers, and the ways that archeologists analyze their findings to learn more about ancient cultures.

In each section of the game, the player can click on various people in the scene to read information, play games, and take “challenges.” Each game and challenge mastered earns the player points and gets him closer to solving the mystery of the stolen artifacts.

There is a fair amount of text that needs to be read during the game (usually 2 pages like the one pictured below). Learning the information is important in order to answer the challenge questions and master the games.


Translating glyphs was one of the easier puzzles.


Mayan math calculations were a little more tricky.


Emily has enjoyed playing Mayan Mysteries and I have felt that it was a good learning experience. I’ve often found that educational computer games have too much “game” and too little learning. This wasn’t the case here. I felt that this was good solid “school time” even though she was having fun.

Emily is very interested in archaeology—It’s one of her (many) possible career plans, so that aspect of the game appealed to her as well. Since she is from Guatemala, she likely has Mayan heritage, so this game had two great appeals right from the start!

I haven’t found a lot of materials to teach about the Mayans, so I think this game definitely meets a need in the educational world. I’m impressed by the amount of good information about the Mayan Culture and archaeology that is included in Mayan Mysteries. I think this is a great value!

Mayan Mysteries Online Game ($21.99 for a 1-year license) is designed for grades 5-9 and is also available as an iPad app.

Dig-It GamesDig-it Games Logo photo dig-it-games-logo_zps61887cb9.png also sells “Roman Town,” another archeology themed game that teaches about ancient Rome.


I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Glimpses of Grace (Review)

Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home  -     
        By: Gloria Furman

Glimpses of Grace, by Gloria Furman, is a book about finding God’s grace in the ordinary times of life. The life of a mother and wife is full of ordinary moments and minor irritations—lots of them. Most of us don’t live lives that the world thinks are amazing or great, but to God, that’s okay. He meets us where we are.

In this inspirational book, Furman describes snapshots from her daily life…irritations with family members leaving messes for her to clean up, church members using up the coffee filters from the kitchen that her family shares with the church, babies with colic, and the pressure to put on a “perfect” front to others that enter her home. In each of these situations, she shows the reader how she sees God; how God meets her needs or calls her to change her attitude.

I loved the premise of this book. However, I just had trouble getting into it. It seemed to repeat the same ideas over and over, with the gospel message presented in every chapter, just in slightly different words. Maybe a “seeker” or new Christian would relate to this better, but I was looking for new ideas and inspiration, and I didn’t find them here.

I received this book free as part of the Crossway Homeschool Book Review Program. All opinions are my own.

“Following Directions” Activities for Preschoolers

directions pre

Can your preschooler follow simple commands? By one year of age, babies should respond to “no” and their own names, and should give an object on request. By eighteen months, children should be able to point to one to three body parts and follow simple one-step commands. By 2 1/2 years, they should be able to follow two-step commands. Playing little games to improve children’s listening and following direction skills can be fun for the child and beneficial too!

The following activities are excerpted from my book Language Lessons, which is packed with games and activities to enhance skills in listening, comprehending, and producing language.

Following Directions

· Throughout your day, give your child simple directions to follow. For a very young child, use two-word directions— "stop car," "wave bye-bye," "give book," "come here," or "throw away."

· Play a "clean-up game," giving your child specific instructions. "Put the book on the shelf." "Throw away the paper." "Put the car in the toy box." "Hang your jacket on the hook."

· Have your child hunt for objects around the house and bring them back to you. In this game, he will have to keep the command in his mind for a longer time and possibly deal with more distractions. "Bring me a red shoe." "Find a toy car." "Bring me 2 cookies from the cookie jar." If you have 2 children, this could turn into a competition.

· Use a set of colored blocks or other colored objects. Ask your child to "put a red block into the box" or "put 3 blocks into the box." As an added challenge, use several containers and vary the color, number, or container in each command.

· Scatter sheets of colored construction paper across the floor. Tell your child to, "touch the red paper," "jump on the blue paper," or "sit on the yellow paper."

· Give your child 2-step commands that are related, such as, "Pick up the ball and give it to me." If this is easy, then try commands that are unrelated, such as, "Jump up and down, then find the ball." Move on to 3-step related and un-related commands.

· Read a nursery rhyme and have your child pantomime the actions phrase by phrase.

· Let your child be your "helper" as you do a simple cooking task, such as fixing a bowl of cereal, making a salad, or making a sandwich. Give him step by step instructions to complete the task.

· Play "Simon Says." With very young children, have "Simon" say everything so that every command should be followed. When the children are able to follow commands reliably, add the variation of giving non-"Simon" commands that the children do not follow.

· Play "Mother May I?" Have your child stand across a room or yard from you. Give a command, such as, "Take 2 giant steps" or "Take 3 baby steps." The child must ask, "Mother, may I?" before he proceeds. The parent responds, "Yes you may." If the child forgets to ask, then he may not move on that turn. The first child to reach the parent wins.

Use these ideas as a starting point for your own ideas to improve your child’s ability to listen and follow activities!

Language Lessons and the series of Super Star Speech books, which focus on articulation disorders, are available at Superstarspeech.com.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Free Science Experiment Guide

Supercharged Science is offering this Science Experiment Guide totally free. I can’t wait to try out some of the experiments!

400 Science Experiment Guide ($25 value)

This experiment guide includes:

  • Over 30 complete experiments...
  • Defy gravity as you levitate water
  • Crush a soda can using a few drops of water
  • Make an indoor corkscrew roller coaster
  • Stick your kid inside a real bubble
  • Grow crystals overnight
  • Create and crack your own geodes
  • Build a flying machine that shouldn't be able to fly at all
  • ...and much more!

Your kids will be so jazzed about science that they'll be begging to learn more. Click here to get the Science Experiment Guide. This eBook download comes bundled with the Rocket Scientist Newsletter, which includes a weekly free science experiment in your email box.

(Affiliate links are included in this post.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

IEW Student Writing Intensive (Schoolhouse Review)


I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review two products from the Institute for Excellence in Writing:

Teaching Writing With Structure and Style ($169.00) is a 10-hour teacher seminar that includes:

  • 10 DVDs that teach nine structural models and many stylistic techniques, offer tips and tricks for using the program, and videos of actual student workshops at 3 different grade levels.
  • The TWSS Seminar Workbook, which serves as the syllabus for the seminar and contains charts, word lists, sample lesson plans, and more!

The Student Writing Intensive, Level B ($109.00) is a student writing program for Grades 6-8,  and includes:

Structure & Style Overview DVD for parents and teachers
• Four instructional DVDs for the student
• Three-ring binder with dividers
• Student packet containing scope & sequence, teacher’s notes, and student handouts for one student (about 100 pages in all)

This is a large program and a lot of material! I began by watching the first two Teaching Writing With Structure and Style DVD’s before I began working with Emily. I then watched the rest of the series over the next few weeks. Although Emily didn’t get to the material beyond the first 3 DVD’s, watching the entire course gave me a good overview of the entire program. Some of the material will be covered later in the course and some is not taught at all in the Level B Student Writing Intensive.

As stated earlier, the first 6 DVD’s of the course cover a writing seminar taught by Andrew Pudewa. He teaches the material to the adults in his class as he would teach children, having them participate in making outlines and stylizing sentences as he writes on his whiteboard. Occasionally he gives a writing assignment to the class or the DVD viewer that is completed before the seminar continues. The pace is, of course, much faster than it would be for children or teens in order to provide a complete course in a short amount of time.

The “structure” part of the course teaches:

  • note taking/outlining
  • summarizing from notes
  • narrative stories
  • reports
  • creative writing
  • essays
  • critiques

The “style part of the course teaches ways to make sentences and paragraphs more complex and interesting to read and teaches these topics and techniques:

  • using strong verbs
  • who/which and because clauses
  • quality adjectives
  • varied ways to open sentences
  • many other ways to make sentence more unique or attention-grabbing

The Teaching Writing With Structure and Style prepares teachers to teach writing, step by step. The accompanying Seminar Workbook contains checklists, handouts for students, paragraphs to use for re-writing, and lesson plans as well as an outline and notes for the DVD content. One could teach the course with just this resource.

The Student Writing Intensive is for the student. The 4 DVD’s have lessons, again taught by Andrew Pudewa, for the student to watch. Specific lesson plans are provided in the manual that break up each lesson into daily assignments.

The course can be covered in either 15 or 30 weeks, depending on how much the student covers each day. We have been using the 15 week schedule, and finding it quite doable. Our schedule has typically been:

  • Day 1 Watch the DVD lesson, write an outline (this may have been already done while the lesson is watched), write a first draft.
  • Day 2 Revise the paragraph. Discuss it with me. Rewrite.
  • Day 3 Write another outline and make a first draft from it.
  • Day 4 Revise and Recopy.
  • Some days vary and may require writing catching titles or writing paragraphs that are part of longer writing projects.

Each of the early lessons follows the same “outline, write, revise” procedure while teaching and requiring the use of new stylistic techniques, so the student’s writing will become better and more sophisticated with each lesson.

A more reluctant writer would probably prefer to use the 30 week schedule, but the more accelerated pace has worked well for us.

Our Thoughts:

Emily LOVES this course. She already enjoys writing, so that helps. Her favorite days are the ones when she watches the DVD because “Mr. Pudewa is funny.”  I think it is helpful for her to see the interaction between him and students as they call out answers and he responds or writes the student suggestions on the board. That group interaction is something she misses out on as a solo homeschooler and hearing other kids’ input and ideas is a bit different from  just hearing Mom’s.

I liked that I was free to substitute any passage for rewriting for the one that was assigned. Some days, I picked one from another book that we were reading in order to reinforce another subject.

Although I could have taught the course using  just Teaching Writing With Structure and Style, the day-by-day lesson plans in the Student Writing Intensive simplified the process. All I had to do each day was to open the teacher’s notes for exact instructions.

This course starts by developing style through outlining, then rewriting other authors’ works. This takes the pressure off students who have trouble coming up with content to write about. The techniques taught to improve writing style should then carry over to the student’s original works. However, if you want your student to be writing original essays and stories, you won’t find that type of lesson early in the program. Later lessons do teach specific guidelines for outlining and writing stories and  essays.

I am finding that rewriting a passage helps my student understand and retain the information better, which is ideal for reinforcing history or science lessons.

Each paragraph or story that is written must follow a certain structure and include certain components, such as strong verbs, who/which clause, ‘ly word, and because clauses using a checklist. This  gives students who typically write in simple sentences a way to “dress up”  their writing. On the other hand, it makes every paragraph very similar and formulaic. I felt that the outline technique taught made Emily’s sentences sound more disconnected from each other than in her other writing, instead of a smooth flow from one idea to another. I think this is a result of the sentence by sentence outlining technique.

I think that Excellence in Writing’s Teaching Writing With Structure and Style and Student Writing Intensive, Level B is a good solid course for a reluctant writer and beneficial for any writer. Even a good writer will benefit from paying conscious attention to the inclusion of stronger verbs and varying sentence structure within a paragraph.  The instruction of the various structural styles will help a student learn to produce well organized and interesting works.


I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.