Category Archives: Homeschool Curriculum Reviews

Book Reports

This year we are learning how to do book reports.  Now that third grade homesteader can read quite well, he    can pick out some of his own books at the library.  After our friend and former librarian gave him “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, there has been no stopping him.  Thank you for the genius of Jeff Kinney, in writing his series of graphic novels for elementary age boys.  My older sons did not start reading for pleasure until they were ages 10 and 12, respectively.  And what got them going?  Harry Potter, and Goosebumps.  Never underestimate the power of children’s literature.


Our lesson plans from Catholic Heritage Curriculum provide 3 basic formats to use for book reports – written, oral and hands-on.  For starters we are using the fill-in-the-blank form provided for a beginner’s written report.  By the end of the year, the goal is to have him use the decorative lined papers and completely write out his entire report, including narrative detail (why not shoot for the stars?!).
The oral report format also has simple guidelines for my beginner, with the goal of a dramatic presentation or speech by year’s end (no problem there).
The hands-on report format is the most loosely structured, and potentially most creative.  Students are encouraged to use their imagination in creating a project which will tell the story or a part of the story in their chosen book.  Suggestions are:  make a shadow box, a model of part of the story, a storyboard, illustrated story book for a younger sibling or friend, puppet show, etc.  (This could be really fun!!)
I like the variety of choices for book reports that Catholic Heritage Curriculum offers to my 8 year old son.  I see each format helping him to hone his communication skills, written and verbal, in practical ways.  At the same time, he is encouraged to focus on what he is reading, in order to retain the content and relay it to his audience – his family.

Tour of Canada

Last year for Social Studies we took a tour of the seven continents.  This year, we are touring ten different countries.  Our first was Canada.  My son filled out his “passport” and I “signed” it.  Next came the travel brochure.  In creating a travel brochure for each country he visits, he has to learn certain information about that country.  Basic information for the first week of study includes drawing a picture of the country’s flag, locating it on the map, planning how to get there from here.  Plane? Train?  Automobile?  He decided we should fly into British Columbia, then walk and take the bus to tour the country from there.  Then there is the issue of weather, clothing to bring and what else to pack.  Luckily, we went in September, when the weather is supposed to still be fairly mild.  Will he need a rudimentary vocabulary in that country’s language?  For Canada, we planned to learn a few words and phrases in French.

The second week, a map of Canada is drawn in the travel brochure.  Major bodies of water are labeled, landmarks are drawn in, and the map is colored.  Information on government, climate, population, area and religions are located and noted in the Information Box.

Week three involves research about historical events in the country, as well as specifically Catholic information, such as saints or shrines.  He chose to learn a little about Jacques Cartier’s explorations.

For our last week in each country, we get to explore.  We find out about native foods, holidays, native animals and plants, literature, art and music, and anything else of interest.  It all ends up with a pertinent activity and a picture for his passport.  Since hockey is a big sport in Canada, he dressed up in his full hockey gear for his picture.

To enrich our study of Canada, we also watched “Anne of Green Gables” again, discussed Prince Edward Island, and read “The Paper Bag Princess”, by a Canadian author.

This Social Studies curriculum is alot of fun, and I am very pleased that my son is learning about how people live in other parts of the world.  Next stop:  India.


And The Winners Are…

Such a fright! Another school year gone by. The Homestead School has had a great time testing lots of awesome homeschool products as part of The Old Schoolhouse’s Homeschool Crew.

The whole Crew recently voted for their favorites in several different categories and a few of Mrs. D’s and son’s favorites made the list:

Favorite Science Product => Eagle’s Wings-Considering God’s Creation

Favorite Math Product => I See Cards-Pyramath

Favorite Reading Instruction Product => Talking Fingers

Favorite Preschool Product => Go Go Kabongo

Favorite Elementary Product => Speekee

Favorite Special Needs Product => See-N-Read

Favorite Christian Education Product => Apologia

Best Technology Resource => Collectorz

Best Children’s Book => Kregel Publications-Circle C Beginnings

Best Hands-On Resource => Corps of Re-Discovery

Most Unique Resource => GoTrybe

Most Family-Oriented Product => Growing Healthy Homes-Nutrition 101

We’re excited to see many of our favorites here.  They each got a blue ribbon (above) to display.  Check out the full list on The Homeschool Crew’s Official Blog here.

We’re also proud to announce that Mrs. D and son will be on next year’s Homeschool Crew, testing and telling about more great homeschool products with The Old Schoolhouse.  Looking forward to a few weeks of rest, and then starting in again;)


Considering God’s Creation by Eagles Wings

Considering God’s Creation is an excellent Bible based natural science curriculum for grades 2-6, but can be minimally adapted for upper and lower grades as well.  Perfect for families schooling more than one grade level.  Although this is a wonderful stand alone text, we used it to supplement our existing science program.  The workbook pages were perfect for this.  Designed to be removed and 3-hole-punched and inserted into a binder, they make excellent activities to reinforce the lesson being taught.  Through games, puzzles, cut and paste activities, and research pages, students delve more deeply into the Solar System, the Speed of Light, insects, or whatever the week’s lesson is.
Considering God’s Creation has 36 lessons which can be covered in 1 year by older grades, or several years for younger grades.  Subjects covered are Creation, The Universe, Rocks and Minerals, Weather, Plants, Animals, Animal Anatomy and Physiology and Human Anatomy and Physiology.  Answers to crossword puzzles and word searches are provided, and additional resources are suggested for more in-depth studies for older students.  Projects call for common materials you likely have on hand, such as a cookie sheet, ice, glass of water, or an egg white.
We used the Weather pages to supplement our Weather study for several weeks.  We became Cloud Detectives, identifying various cloud types, tracking our daily weather on a chart, learning what makes hail (during a timely hail storm) and so on.  My son went on to educate several other people about hail formation.  We are looking forward to continuing to use Considering God’s Creation as part of our science curriculum for the next several years.
Considering God’s Creation also comes with a CD of original music, directly linked to each chapter, with clever songs to help children remember God’s touch in each area of His creation.  Student workbook, Teacher’s Manual and music CD come in a package for only $29.95.  Other products are available on the website, for history, math, phonics and more.
See what other Homeschool Crew members had to say about Considering God’s Creation.
We received  one set of Considering God’s Creation student workbook, teacher’s manual and music CD to use and evaluate.  No other compensation was received for this review.

Learn Spelling with Stories – Talking Fingers Word Qwerty


We had so much fun with our first Talking Fingers program, that when we found out we would get to try Talking Fingers Word Qwerty we just couldn’t wait.  My son signed in and started “playing”, and as I listened and observed, I was very happy with what I was seeing.  The same company that helped him learn proper finger placement on the qwerty keyboard and helped with his reading skills was now helping him learn to spell and write short stories!


Through a variety of interactive games and exercises, Word Qwerty teaches spelling rules and tricks, such as looking for patterns.  Catchy songs help children remember them.  As is explained on the website,  “Wordy Qwerty – Foundations for Reading and Writing Fluency, takes 7-9 year olds through the next steps of reading and writing fluency, and picks up where our award-winning software, the Read, Write & Type Learning System leaves off.”

Students learn about spelling rules, word families and “outlaws” (words that don’t follow the rules).  Next comes the spelling challenge – students hear a word and have to spell it correctly and put it in the right box.  The program prompts the student if he misspells the word.


Then students are shown a few sentences, hear them read, and are challenged to write them as they are read back to them.  Parents can sign in and monitor student progress at any time.


Talking Fingers offers a FREE demo download for Word Qwerty.  The pricing for Word Qwerty online Home Edition is as follows:  1 user $25, 2 users $40, 3/$52.50, 4/$60, 5/$71.25.  CD version Home Edition $35; K-4 Reading Bundle which includes Word Qwerty, Read Write Type and other goodies CD version Home Edition $99.

See what other Homeschool Crew Members are saying about Talking Fingers Word Qwerty.

We received a limited license to Word Qwerty online, in order to use and evaluate this product in our homeschool classroom.  No other compensation was received for this review.