The Crafty Classroom – A Homeschool Crew Review

Making school fun for an active 6-year-old girl is interesting to say the least. She wants to do worksheets, but she wants to have fun. She doesn’t want a lot of work, but she loves the feeling of completing something. What in the world do you do? You head over to The Crafty Classroom and check out their Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook and the R.E.A.D. Review Pack.

Little Miss is my worker bee! She loves having the chance to do worksheets. She has always loved doing worksheets with her big brothers since she could hold a crayon. Finding fun curriculum for her has always been a challenge, as she wants the fun worksheets, but she wants variety in what she does. The worksheets in this R.E.A.D Curriculum are exactly what she wants!

I will warn you right away, there is a lot of printing for this curriculum. I am only printing what we need each week on Sunday night. I also need to tell you, most of printing is in black and white and not a lot of color.

There is a Daily Schedule included in the introduction. This program is suggested to be used 4 days a week taking Friday off. This is a nice pace for Little Miss and allows us time to do fun stuff on Fridays. This can be easily adapted to take any other day off during the week, which we have had to do when Daddy has some doctor appointments.

Before you even begin, there is a Pre-Assessment that you give to your child. This will see if your child is ready to begin the program. This includes checking to see if your child can identify the Upper and Lower-Case letters and their sounds.

Once you are ready to begin, you can follow the schedule for the list of things to do with your child. Every day begins with a Daily Warm-Up. This can be done in a few different ways. You can print a new sheet every day, in color or black and white, or you can use a page protector and dry-erase marker and clear the sheet every morning. We opted to use the color sheet and page protector option. We also have a blank calendar that we fill in every day.

After our warm-up, we got started on our lessons each day. We have done all the worksheets at once, and we have split them up throughout the day. Both of these options worked for us, it just depended on the day for Little Miss. Each week the lessons are the same, making it easy for Little Miss to know what to anticipate each day of the week.

Two days a week, Tuesday and Thursday, would do a fun Interactive Grammar lesson. This was something new for Little Miss and she loved learning the basics of grammar. These worksheets were different each time and instead of keeping them with our other worksheets, we put these in our Language Arts Interactive Notebook. This is a fun way for Little Miss to sit down and review by paging through the notebook instead of getting lost with her other pages.

We decided to keep all of our R.E.A.D. papers together in a three-ring binder. I keep them separated by week and word family, but by doing this we are able to quickly review something if I notice Little Miss having an issue.

Every 5 weeks, we have a review. During this review time, we get to practice all the sight words and word families that we have learned by reading fun little books. Little Miss is in love with this first review week and the fun new books we have been reading each day. I love that she is reading and not just looking at the pictures to guess what the words say!

Little Miss is in love with her new school. She loves that she was reading right away from the first day, and this has encouraged her to keep going. The variety of worksheets is just the right amount and keeps her from getting bored, but also helps her master the sight words and word family of the week. While she loves all the worksheets, her favorite by far is the Spinner Winner worksheet, which she would do every day if I let her!

While there is a little printing involved with this curriculum, I have no issues with that. I love that the pages are black and white, and actually have Little Miss color the pictures on some of them. Oh, and the cute little books! These are so fun to sit down with Little Miss and listen as she reads to me!

The Crafty Classroom can be found on social media here:



They also carry more than just this curriculum, check out the reviews of their other products right here:

Crafty Classroom {Reviews}

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Crew Disclaimer

Hewitt Homeschooling – A Homeschool Crew Review

Finding great literature is not always hard, finding the right curriculum to go with them can be a tad difficult. Hewitt Homeschooling has given us some great literature and a great program to go with it! We had the chance to check out Lightning Lit & Comp British Early – Mid 19th Century and loved what we saw!

This review gave us the physical Teacher's Guide and Student Guide. We also had the chance to use the Paper Evaluation Service that they offer. There are four books your child will read through during this program, Pride and Prejudice, Ivanhoe, Frankenstein and Jane Eyre. These books were not included in the set we got, but I found them at our library or on the Kindle.

There are four units in this book. Each unit has two lessons. It is recommended to use this guide in a semester. While using this schedule, that you can find in the Teacher's Guide, not only will your child read all four books in 18 weeks, but they will also work on writing about two papers for each book. While this is the recommended pace, and the pace we used for this review period, we are going to be slowing this down now and making this a year-long study.

Moe Man is great a reading, but when it comes to comprehension and paper writing, he has troubles. I love that after seeing the Semester Schedule I saw the Full-Year Schedule in the Teacher's Guide. This is the schedule that we will be switching to for his sake, and mine!

When you first open the Student Guide, you will find an introduction to the whole book. This introduction will give your child all they need to know on how to make this course successful for them. They will not only be introduced to the topics they will cover, but also given hints on how to make their writing better. Everything is there from how to write an introductory paragraph and conclusion to supporting paragraphs and tips on rewriting. Your child is also given tips on how to get a better grade. Simply by keeping a notebook for vocabulary and a reading journal and even some extra projects to help with the learning.

Each lesson concludes with a writing exercise. There are multiple choices for your child to choose from, and this makes it easier on your child to be able to pick one of six topics instead of making them do as they are told. These are great for working on your child's skills in writing. Add in the Evaluation Service and you have someone else telling your child what they need to work on. While I am good a noticing the major mistakes, this service tells Moe Man what to change AND why! This is the biggest thing, the why. This helps Moe Man see things a little different and not always complain about what mom is saying.

I personally loved this program! I loved seeing that Moe Man was reading quality books and I loved how the papers were added in with enough time to write a few drafts. The comprehension questions are great. They are not too hard, and there are only about 10 at a time. And that Evaluation Service has been a treasured gift by mom! I love seeing Moe Man work harder on his writing, knowing that it will be someone else reading it!

Hewitt Homeschooling has many other great curriculums for all ages! Check out some of these by checking out the reviews of the other crew members right here!

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

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Crew Disclaimer

K5 Learning – A Homeschool Crew Review

online reading and math

My kids love to play on computer. They love to have access to games and anything they think is fun. So, I love when I can find an online program like K5 Learning to allow them to have fun while they are still learning!

online reading and math

K5 learning is an online learning program for K-5 with the focus on Math and Reading, and a little Spelling also. There is no need for extra textbooks, no extra space to take up. All you need is your computer and an internet connection.

While the kids had a lot of fun using K5 Learning, this is not the typical game style learning site. K5 Learning focuses on teaching children great study skills and how to work on their own. These are two very important skills I want my kids to know when it comes to school.

online math and reading program

The use of K5 Learning is very simple. You set up your account, add an account for each student, with their own login information and send them on their way. The first thing they will do is take an assessment test for both reading and math. These are separate and do take a little bit of time, but they are needed to place your child in the right level.

online program

Once the assessment is over, your child is free to go. Each lesson plan is personalized for each child. There is no one size fits all here. The site is safe for the children to use, there are no ads and no links to anything outside of K5 Learning. This made me happy knowing that the kids could be on the site while I was busy helping someone else, and that they would only be working on quality lessons and not surfing the web getting into trouble!

online math and reading program

There was not too much for me to do when it came to this program. After I set the kids up, I would log in once or twice a week and see their progress, but that was about it. I did take the chance to print a few worksheets that are available to go with the lessons they are learning, but that was it!

Both Ray Ray and Little Miss love to do their K5 Learning Lessons. They had the choice to work on their math or reading or both each day. I loved how each subject covered many topics and didn't get boring for the kids. They would work on things like sight words or reading comprehension for reading, and math was not only numbers and adding or subtracting, but also geometry and time and money. Ray Ray has also tried out the spelling features. He enjoyed that there were many learning styles when it came to this. It wasn't just a listen and type, but rather have fun and learn.

online math and reading program

Both of my kids love the way this is set up. All I hear all day is "Can I do my K5 school yet?" "Is it time for K5 school yet?" I love that they love it and I love that I notice an improvement in both of them, specifically Little Miss and her reading skills. One week she is struggling to sound out words and the next she is sounding them out just fine. The only difference? K5 Learning!

online math and reading program

If you have a busy workload, like 4 kids and a husband recovering from surgery, K5 Learning will help you make sure your kids still learn what they need learn, as independently as possible. Yes, I still give them regular math and reading lessons, but knowing that on days when I may be lacking they won't be, that is what is important to me!

K5 Learning {Reviews}

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Crew Disclaimer

Captain Absolutely ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Action, character, comic book, ethics

There are a few times when we get a new review item when I don't get to see it. When Focus On The Family sent us Captain Absolutely, I had a whole 30 seconds before the book was torn out of my hands and never to be seen of again, unless it was in the hands of Ray Ray!

Action, character, comic book, ethics

This book is unlike any other I have had the chance to review in a long time. This is a comic book, and this is the main reason why Ray Ray snatched it from me in the first place. This is something he loves, comic books. This is not a boring book about some dull thing he has to learn about. This is something that has grabbed his 8-year-old boy attention as interesting. So, no matter what you hear me say in this review, please do not tell him this is meant to teach him something!

Captain Absolutely Defending Truth, Justice, and Lots More Truuuth! Battle Against Dr. Relative is a comic book, but it is a book. The pages are glossy picture book quality and with just over 100 pages, there are a lot of adventures put it in here!

Action, character, comic book, ethics

When we start reading, we are taken to the library in Metropolitanville, a city where anything goes. This is not a good sign. After a nuclear explosion, librarian Josiah King has found himself in the room with the banned books of the city. He realizes that all the books in the room are the same book, just different versions and they are all titled The Bible. After spending the night waiting to be rescued and reading all the Bibles in the room, Captain Absolutely is ready to save the city with the word of God.

Captain Absolutely takes children on adventures of epic proportions. They learn to defend truth and justice and to stand firm in their faith no matter what the world throws at them. But instead of learning this in a boring workbook style, they get to have fun with the comic book!

Ray Ray didn't need to know what the story was about, the pictures and comic book style pages drew him in right away. Once drawn into the book, the adventures kept him there. Each two-page fold has a simple adventure with a new lesson. Each adventure also has a bible verse or two quoted on the page. This was a great thing to see, how simple it was to mix it in and make it fit into the storyline. Just like how we should live, with the Word fitting simply into our daily lives.

Action, character, comic book, ethics

At the end of the book, we meet the main characters. We learn a little about them, including their worldview. And in case you were wondering as you were reading, you will see which of them stared in The Adventures in Odyssey! We also have a section called Big Questions. This has a question to ask after each adventure. And these are not simple one word answer type questions.  These are deep questions like "Why can't you scare people into following God?"

I love finding great quality books for the kids to read. This was one of those gems that I would not want to be without! A quality, adventure filled, action packed, bible based book that we love, now that Ray Ray is willing to share it with us after finishing it in two days!

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}

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Crew Disclaimer

Reading and What We Are Reading Now ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet


Welcome back to another round of Blogging Through the Alphabet! Annette from A Net in Time and I are happy to have you here. We hope you find a post that helps you out this week! This week we are working on the Letter R. This is so much easier than last week's letter Q!

This week for the Letter R I want to talk about Reading. There are two parts to this one. First, teaching of reading and second, enjoying the reading.


After starting homeschooling, my biggest fear was teaching the kids how to read! Moe Man was in public school when he had his "Ah-ha" reading moment. I didn't realize how much I was going to miss this moment. When I started with Ray Ray, I was doing EVERYTHING! I wanted to follow the schedule of the public school and was feeling guilty when nothing was working. By 7, he still wasn't reading! What was I doing wrong?

Now when I say I was doing everything, I mean it! I was looking for all of the newest, easiest and those that claimed 100% success. While Ray Ray loved some of them, like the Bob Books, he just didn't want to read. It was at this point in time when I read something about how boys take longer in the learning to read area. While I don't remember the exact article I read, I remember that this gave me a small little breath of fresh air.

Fast forward 6 months. Ray Ray fell in love with Goosebumps. He checked out 3 of the books from the library at one time. He got frustrated that I wasn't able to read them as fast as he wanted. One morning he came downstairs, he looked tired and was grumpy. I couldn't figure it out until he put one of the books down on the table and announced that he had finished reading it. We didn't believe it. We questioned things that happened and he told us! He taught himself how to read when he was ready with the foundation I had set for him!

This was the "Ah-ha" moment I needed! If I laid the foundation down, I had to trust that the kids would build from it. Little Miss is acting the same way. She doesn't want to read. But we are using Electic Foundations and building this great foundation that she will be able to use when she is ready.

Another thing that we need to remember as the "teachers" is to read to our kids every day! Having them listen to us reading and showing them how much fun it can be will build their interest. This interest will turn into a willingness to read. We love reading aloud, and even Baby Girl will bring books when she is bored. This shows me that we have started a great foundation for her as well just by reading to her!

Now for the actual reading! Each of us has some great books we are currently reading and we wanted to share those with you! While we read a lot of different books, and sometimes a lot at one time. These are the ones we are reading right now!

Blogging Through the Alphabet


I am currently reading two great books. The first is Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I am in love with this book. While I wanted to read it to all the kids, I have decided that Moe Man will be the next to read this and we will wait for Little Miss to get in on this one!

And because I don't remember a time when I have ever read just one book, I am also reading Rush Revere and the Presidency. This is a great book! I was so excited to be able to get this for review. I have read the first four and can't wait to finish this one!

Moe Man

Moe Man is one that loves to read, when he wants to read. When he doesn't want to read, he is a tough cookie! Right now he is currently reading two books for school. He is almost done with YWAM's Christian Heros: Then & Now Corrie Ten Boom (with a review to follow shortly) and he is just starting Pride and Prejudice for another review you will be seeing! When he does get in a reading kick, he is usually reading a Star Wars book of some kind.

Ray Ray

This kid of mine, and yes I say mine. He can read five books at one time and still know all that is happening in all of them! Right now he is currently listening as I read Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims. He is reading Captain Absolutely (check back this week to read the review of this one). On top of these two, Ray Ray usually has a Goosebumps book in hand, I am sure he has had to have read them all by now. If not, he is close!

Little Miss

Little Miss is loving listening anytime I read. Right now, she is really into Arthur books. Her favorite is Arthur's Underwear, now just to find it so I can return it to the library!

Baby Girl

Baby Girl loves her board books. I have a lot from Usborne Books and More when I was a consultant. But she is also in love with the simple toddler Seek and Finds like this Mickey Mouse one.

What are you reading right now?

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A Fun Reading Program with Electic Foundation ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Language arts is a subject that I love to teach. I love watching my kids learn reading and writing skills. But sometimes I need to pay attention to what they want instead of just what I want. When I did that with Little Miss, I found that she needed something different from her big brothers. Electic Foundations was just what she needed and Electic Foundations Language Arts Level A fit her perfectly in her Kindergarten year!

Electic Foundations Level A has everything you need to make sure you get your little one off to a good start with Language Arts. Included with this physical set, I received the Teacher's Guide, Student Workbook, Appendixes, Level A Word Card Set and the McGruffery Electic Primer. With all of these, this was an open and go program for Little Miss.

The Teacher's Guide is set up by lesson. You are able to open to the lesson you are currently on, see what needs to be done and do it. The lessons are short, sweet and to the point. They start in Level A with the letters and sounds. This is the main focus of the first 64 lessons. Your child will be building on what they previously learn until they are ready to start reading.

Each lesson starts with a simple task of reciting the alphabet. This got a little boring for Little Miss, as she has already memorized the alphabet, so I added different songs from YouTube to her singing of the alphabet. Some days we could just sing it ourselves, other days, we added the different variations that we could find.

After singing the alphabet, we would review the letters we had already learned. Making sure that she knew the names and sounds of the letters. This can be done in numerous ways, so it all depends on your child. We used some simple letter flash cards one day, having her tell me the name or the sound of the letter. Other days I would say the name or sound and she would have to write it. The main goal was memorizing the visual, name and sound of each letter.

After this, each day was a little different. Some days we would work on our handwriting of current and previous letters, other days we would work on fun hands on ways of learning the letters. When a letter was new, we would usually take some play-doh and make the shape of the letter. Other days we would decorate the letter in the student workbook. There were days when we would follow the letter through a maze of letters and as we added letters, we would work on sounding out new sounds and words. Each letter spanned over an average of 4 days of learning.

Once you reach Lesson 65, you get to start with the use of McGruffey's Primer. This is when your child gets to start reading. We have not reached this lesson, yet, but Little Miss is in heaven thinking about it. These lessons that include McGruffey's Primer are still mainly the same. You are still working on new letters, but you have reading to do each time using the letters you have already learned. Such a simple, yet effective way of giving your child the confidence to continue learning to read.

Finishing up the lesson was a simple Mother Goose Rhyme. Little Miss loved hearing some of her favorites and questioned some of the older style writing in the ones she had not heard yet. It was fun to finish on a happy note no matter how the lesson had gone.

The Student Worktext includes everything your child will need to complete the lessons. It is put together in a gorgeous spiral bound book that allows us to keep everything together yet not be stuck with a thick workbook that cannot bend. Little Miss loved keeping this book in her back pack and felt a little more grown up this way.

The Appendixes is a spiral bound book. This small little book is printed on heavier cardstock paper that has been laminated. There are 5 simple pages in this book. They are used throughout the program in many of the hands on ways of learning. Little Miss loved the Tic-Tac-Toe board that we used when learning new letters. Instead of X's and O's, we would use the capital and lowercase letters that we were learning. What a fun way to practice our writing skills!

Since Little Miss knew some of her letters already, we would work on two lessons a day on an average of 4 days a week. Even doing two lessons a day, we were done in under ½ hour, depending on how much fun we were having during the Tic-Tac-Toe game! There really wasn't much more. This is a straight to the point, fun program that kept the interest of a young learner. This is just what I was looking for when looking for something for her. Something that would keep her interest, not take too long, but get the point across! I look forward to the days ahead when we will be reading together!

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Did you love this review? Want to find out more about the other levels? Check out the reviews of other Homeschool Crew members and see if you can find a level that fits your child!

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}
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Crew Disclaimer


Interview With An Author ~ Dan Seaborn

I have been spending some time reading a great book, Parenting with Grace and Truth written by Dan Seaborn. I can't wait to share my full review with you next week, but today I have a special interview with Dan himself!

Thank you for taking the time to spend with us Dan! Could you tell us a bit about your own family and what lead you to write this book for today's parents.

Jane and I have been married for 35 years. We live in West Michigan. We have four children. Our oldest son, Alan, and his wife, Annaliese, live in West Michigan as well. Alan works with me at Winning At Home. Our son, Josh, and his wife, Amy, live in Camden, NJ where Josh is a pastor at an inner city church. They are expecting their first child in February. Our daughter, Crissy, and her husband, Jonathan, live in West Michigan. They have our two grandchildren, Jackson and Naya. Our youngest daughter, Anna, lives home and works with the youth at our local Boys and Girls Club.

I wrote this book for parents because I encountered a time of parenting in my life that I never anticipated. Even though I worked with teens for many years I had never personally experienced the challenges of raising a child who is rebelling. In this book, I took the approach of understanding what it takes to balance grace with truth. I want to be a forgiving parent, but I don't want to move into being an enabling parent. Balancing these two things is very difficult. I try to address that topic in this book.

You and your wife call your list of values, "rules to die for." Why?

I wanted to establish some guidelines early on to make sure we had foundational principles in place with a Biblical base. These are rules we feel are vital to living a life honoring to Christ. If you begin shifting and changing the rules while you're in the process of dealing with your teenagers it can create a lot of confusion. Enforcing these foundational principles early on and sticking to them daily as we faced challenges helped protect us from that.

How do we help our children understand the importance of making good choices and how that impacts their future?

There will be some children that understand that naturally, but others do not have that type of discernment. You might be surprised as your children age how rapidly some of these things can change. You might be facing a situation with a child who made good choices all along then starts to make poor choices. The rules to die for were important because they were the foundation that I could point them back to to determine whether they were making wise choices or not. We could try to evaluate together whether their choices fit the type of living our family rules encouraged. All you can do is keep teaching the principles. Eventually they need to learn to make good choices for themselves.

Many of us are good at setting the "rules" but struggle with the follow-through. What are some ideas for consequences for violating family rules?

In our home we established the rules to die for and laid out the consequences when those rules weren't followed. If you were choosing not to follow the rules, we went so far as to say that you're choosing not to live in our home. That actually happened to us with one of our teenagers. It was a very difficult day, but we stood by our rules. In the long run, it has proven to be very effective.

How do today's television shows shape our parenting?

I think our parenting is shaped much more by the people around us, our faith, our own upbringing, and our environment than television.

We live in a culture that prizes being "busy." Parents often don't think twice about loading up their kids schedules and have dreams of their child being the best in whatever they do. Is there danger in this?

Yes, I have always said parents need to believe in their kids but there is such a thing as over believing in your kids and many parents fall into this. I believe we should encourage our children to be involved in the positive activities they enjoy and certainly support and cheer for them, but not force them to be involved in everything. Sometimes this can become a competition more for the parents than the children. We want our child to be the best at everything and we lose our focus of what is really important – spending quality time together! Be sure to keep proper balance!

Why is discipline often hard for us as parents?

Because we have to be responsible adults and we fear losing our child's friendship. We need to understand being best buddies isn't the most important part of your relationship with your children.

How can we help other parents, specifically single parents?

Put yourself in their shoes every now and then. If you know a single parent, try to relate to their life once in a while. Do what you can to support them! Think of practical ways you can help them and make their life a little easier. Take time to care!

You and your wife had a prodigal child. Tell us about that and how other parents dealing with this situation can cope.

This answer I feel could get very lengthy! If you want to have a phone conversation about this, let me know. I've learned a great deal through the challenge of having a prodigal child. It has been very difficult, but I now can relate and seek to love and encourage parents who are going through a difficult situation in a way I never would have been able to before. For this I am grateful. My wife and I learned to lean on the Lord, each other, and our friends in ways we never had before through this trial. It is important to surround yourself with people who love you and who have been through a similar situation. People who get it, can give you wise counsel, and encourage you to press on.

What should our main goal be as parents?

That our children grow to know and love the Lord. They need to see you modeling this for them daily as the parent! We need to be mature. Parenting involves a lot of dying to self. Being a good parent means most of the time the kids come first. Make sure you're setting a great example for others in the way you love your family.

Thank you so much for your time Dan! Parenting With Grace and Truth has been a great book for our family. It has opened our eyes to being more like Jesus as parents and this is how we want to be!

I can't wait to tell you all more about this next week, so please remember to check back! But, honestly, from what Dan has said today, who wants this book now? 

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$1 Kindle Books for Kids

Do you have a Kindle in your house? Do your kids love to read books? Are you looking for some budget friendly books for your kids to read on the Kindle? Today I have some great Kids Books that are only $1! Check them out and see if you find one or more that your kids would love to read!


Turkey Trouble

Turkey Trouble

Poor Turkey, it is almost Thanksgiving and he needs to find a way to avoid being on the table! Laugh along with your kids as Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise for Thanksgiving!

Polar Opposites

Polar Opposites

Meeting Alex the BIG polar bear and Zina the tiny penguin, we learn a lot about how you can still meet in the middle no matter how different you really are!

Tornado Slim and the Magic Cowboy Hat

Tornado Slim

Meet Tornado Slim, an average cowboy, until the day he meets the coyote. With a special hat and letter from the coyote, Slim makes his way to Fire Gulch City with disaster following him. Why is this happening? What is up with the hat and letter? Find out in this funny tall tale!

The Rain Stomper

Rain Stomper

It is the day of the big parade and baton twirler Jazmin is ready to go. But before the parade starts, a thunderstorm comes in. Jazmin does not let this slow her down or ruin her parade!

I Love My Hat

I love My Hat

Farmer Brown is on his way to town, along the way he finds some interesting animals wearing clothes. Each animal that he runs into along the way has a little song about what they are wearing. After Farmer Brown gets his new clothes, it is his turn to sing about them. This is a funny story to keep your kids and yourself laughing the whole way through!

Storm Song

Storm Song

A thunderstorm is approaching, the family gathers inside to play, sing and eat until the weather clears. Through the lively, rhythmic text you can find reassurance that children need during a storm. This is a great book to have on hand for when it is needed.

Shoes For Me!

Shoes For Me

Finding new shoes should be a fun experience. Hippo needs a new pair of shoes, but what will she pick? Does she want bows, shoes with wheels or glitter and jewels? Finding that perfect pair is what this book is all about!

These are just a few of the books that we found when looking to find some fun books to read. In fact, I found 30 books that only cost $1 for the Kindle! Even better, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read all of these books for FREE! Which one or two of these books are you going to be reading tonight?

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Ultimate Phonics Reading Program ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Reading, it is the most important part of a child's education, at least in my personal opinion. I love making sure that my children have a good base in their reading skills, but sometimes I need some help. I was happy when we got to try the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program from Spencer Learning.


The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is a program that you download on your computer and use. There are over 200 lessons available on this download and will work with many ages, we used it for Little Miss (K) and Ray Ray (2nd).

Each lessons contains different sections. You will start with the Idea/Pattern. This is simply an introduction to the lesson, what you will be focusing on and learning. The next step is the Word List. This list will show you and your child the words that they will be working on learning to read during the lesson. Following this is the words themselves. Your child will be working on reading the words, one phonic/phonic set at a time. There is no time, so they can repeat this as much as they need to until they get it on their own. Finally, they see the words in sentences. The word is in sentences that include other words that have been learned already.

Practice Words

While my main focus with this program was to work with Ray Ray on his phonics, we also had Little Miss using this about once or twice a week. Ray Ray was busy using this about four days a week as a part of his current reading program. It took a few tries to find the right lesson to start on, but once we got there, we kept going. Every day, Ray Ray would sit down and work on the lesson for the day. I would make sure that he spent time on the phonics that he may not have understood, and watched him excel.

Word Bank

Reading is not something that Ray Ray loves to do…for school. So, I would make sure to sit with him during these lessons. I would make sure that he was actually trying to sound out the phonics before skipping ahead. I would only allow him to hear the words or phonics if he was having a hard time. After the first few lessons I noticed that I had to remind him less often to work on his reading and noticed that he would be working on that on his own. I was happy to see this, especially from him!

Little Miss loves anything school, so since we were able to switch easily between the two kids, I let her "play" on here. While I didn't force her to do as much as Ray Ray, I wanted to let her get some solid foundations set up when it came to reading. She didn't need me to sit by her, and had fun copying the spoken words. This made it fun for me to listen to while I was busy making lunch, or supper.


The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program is not like most computer based programs you see on the market today. This is the bare minimum when it comes to extras. Their focus is on reading and not on the colors, sounds or graphics. They want to teach your kids how to read and not distract them with all the fun stuff. This worked great for Ray Ray, who is easily distracted by the simple colors or graphics on the screen. This made him focus on his reading and not on the "game".


This program has been just what I was looking for with Ray Ray. He is the child who taught himself how to read, yet there were some things that he didn't pick up on. While he loves to read his books, when it comes to school, he does not like to read at all. I had tried everything that I could think of. When I started him on Ultimate Phonics, I was just hoping to get him into reading a little better, I never thought that I would see him excel as he has.

Ray Ray loves graphics, in fact, he is the child who I limit the games with the most because of his love of graphics. Even school games. When I saw that Ultimate Phonics had the sounds of the phonics and words, but absolutely no extra graphics, I was pleased. This was not the same with Ray Ray, as he wanted to play "games" for school. After seeing what he was capable of, I didn't care about his arguments for a game, I was happy to see him reading bigger words and reading them correctly.

Super easy to jump from one lesson to the next.
Super easy to jump from one lesson to the next.

If you want to give your kids a solid foundation in their reading skills, if you want to let them learn without the extras, if you want to help a struggling reader advance, I suggest that you head over and check out the free sample of this program. You don't have to take my word for it if you don't want to. Try it for yourself and see what I am talking about. If you still have doubts after that, check out the reviews of these other families that took the time to use this program in their homeschool by clicking below!

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

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Twitter: @spencerlearning

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Jolly Phonics ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Kindergarten, that time when little kids grow up. When they learn their letters and start to read. But there is one problem. Have you looked into programs for learning to read? I have! There are a lot! When I say a lot, I mean, you will get lost in trying to find out what you want to use to teach your child how to read. I have had the chance to try out Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar from just2ducks LLC at This program has been wonderful for Little Miss!
Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

What Is It

Jolly Phonics is a phonics program that works with your child to teach them words as soon as possible. You will not be teaching your child the phonics in alphabetical order, rather in an order that allows them to form words right away with what they are learning. Jolly Phonics has a multi-sensory approach, so they can reach as many students as possible.

Jolly Phonics teaches five skills to your child.

  • Learning the letter sounds: Children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue.
  • Learning letter formation: Using different multi-sensory methods, children learn how to form and write the letters.
  • Blending: Children are taught how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words.
  • Identifying the sounds in words (Segmenting): Listening for the sounds in words gives children the best start for improving spelling.
  • Tricky words: Tricky words have irregular spellings and children learn these separately.

Jolly Phonic and Jolly Grammar

The Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar set comes with;

  • Jolly Phonics Teacher's Book in print letters
  • Jolly Phonics Student Book 1, 2 and 3
  • Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher's Book in print letters
  • Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book
  • Jolly Songs in print letters

How We Used It

As with every program, mommy spent some time reading the beginning of the teacher's book before allowing Little Miss to work on this. I needed to know what I was going to be teaching and what tricks I would need to know. After reading through the explanations of the 5 skills, I got to the daily guidance section and was ready to get started. With Little Miss, we started on Book 1 of Jolly Phonics. This books starts us off with the letter-sound group of "s, a, t, I, p, n". These letters/sounds are able to make numerous different words. This alone made Little Miss want to come back the next day.

Jolly Phonics Teacher's Book

Once we tried the first day and found out how much fun we had, we decided to do one page a day. Every day we would start by practicing our previously learned sounds. After we practiced the sounds, we would move on to a story. This story would introduce us to the new letter/sound that we would be learning about that day. This story would use the sound over and over again. It was fun to hear the sound in a story and watch Little Miss picking it out.

After we worked on the story, we would work on an action to help us remember the sounds. These actions also went along with the fun Jolly Songs. Little Miss would listen to this CD over and over again, even listening to the songs we had not gotten to yet, this made it easier when we were learning those letters later. We would move on to learning how to write the letter and even blending it with previously learned letters. We would finish up the day by doing the activity on the workbook page and coloring the picture.

Jolly Phonics Book 1

We have almost finished book one. We look forward to book two. This is where we take what we learn and actually work with the words instead of just the letters. Not only that, but we continue to work on practicing our writing of the letters. By the time your child has reached the third book, you are watching your child write and read. They will have built confidence in a fun and easy way.

What We Thought of It

This has been such a fun program to use. It has a simple layout and moves easily from one day to the next. Little Miss enjoyed being able to learn to read right from the beginning. There was no waiting for a week or two. This program allowed her to start reading right away. This gave her excitement and confidence to keep on going. She loved listening the songs, and I love how these songs have such catchy tunes to them!

Jolly Phonics Songs

The teacher's book is laid out wonderfully. I was able to understand it, and could use it without spending a lot of time studying it each morning. I knew that I would go to the day, go through the activities, and that was it. I didn't have all sorts of prep, yet Little Miss was having fun. We even had Baby Girl joining us from time to time with the songs that we were singing.

Little Miss loved her workbooks. They were simple for her to understand, and she could do most of them on her own once she understood the new sound. This was fun for me to watch, but I had to keep an eye on her. Some days she wanted to keep working in the workbook without me, then we would have to redo the lesson so she could hear the sound!

Little Miss Jolly Phonics

After using other programs for Ray Ray, and knowing that Little Miss was a different learner, I was happy to find Jolly Phonics for her. I can't wait until we make our way into the Jolly Grammar book and learn about parts of speech in the same fun way we have been learning the phonics.

We were not the only family to try this program out. Head on over and see what the other families on the Review Team had to say about this program!
Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

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