Roasted Brussels Sprout recipe!

Had a craving for these and wanted to share!

You will need:

  • 1lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 Yellow onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tsp Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (I used a small Breville convection oven).

Clean the Brussels sprouts, removing outer leaves and cutting off stems, rinse well and pat dry with paper towel.

Cut the sprouts into small slices, starting at the top of the sprout, working your way down until you get to the fibrous end, discard the end.

Dice yellow onion into 1 inch pieces. Place sprouts and onion into a medium bowl.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of Olive oil onto mixture. Then Salt & Pepper.

Place mixture onto oven roasting tray (sides are important).

Brussels

Place tray into oven and roast for 15 minutes, then flip and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.

BS cookedDrizzle Balsamic vinegar over entire mixture and stir.

BS done plated

Serve and enjoy…Finch!!

 

Family, Fun & Homeschooling ~ Featuring Kym from Homeschool Coffee Break

Welcome back to Family, Fun & Homeschooling!

F,F & H finchnwren.com

I’m so excited to introduce you today to my friend Kym, from Homeschool Coffee Break.  She is another fellow Crew member, and has lots of awesome homeschool experience.  As a matter of fact, she also hosts a great linky party called Middle School Monday, which I love to participate in.  (I haven’t been able to get ahead of the curve enough lately to post–but I’m really planning on participating again now that I feel as though I’m getting my head above water, Kym!)   Our families love a lot of the same homeschool subjects—and we share a love of game night.  But—I’ll let Kym tell you more!

Without further ado, here’s Kym!

Kym T family 2

Tell us about your blog. What was the spark of the idea that enabled you to create your blog?

Several years ago, some of the moms in a homeschool message board that I participated in started blogs on the homeschoolblogger platform that The Old Schoolhouse had. I decided to jump on the bandwagon, and I hoped that by writing about our homeschool experience and sharing pictures, my family and friends that live far away could stay up to date. Instead, I’ve made a whole new collection of friends.

Do you have a favorite blogging topic that you return to again and again?

I guess I most often write about our favorite subjects in our homeschool – history/geography, science, and art.

Kym T family 3

Tell us about your family. How did you and your husband meet? And what would you like to share about your child?

My husband and I are both Canadians – I am from Calgary, Alberta and he is from southern Ontario. We met in the middle, at a Bible college in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We lived in Calgary for about five years, then moved to New Jersey for a couple of years, and have been in rural Maryland for the past 18 years. We have four kids. The oldest two have graduated from our homeschool. Harrison went to broadcast school and is now an on-air radio personality, part-time. He and Spencer both work at a restaurant during the week. Landon is in Grade 10. He is aiming to graduate next year, and his career goal is to own or manage a trash company! He is also a cadet officer in Civil Air Patrol. Our youngest is Kennady. She is Grade 8 and enjoys music and art. She studies piano and guitar, and is in a Children’s Chorus.

What made you decide to homeschool?

We met a family in our church that homeschooled their two daughters, and we were very impressed and curious. When our first son was still a baby, we made a huge cross-country move and at my husband’s new job we came in contact with another homeschooling family. By that time, we were already quite sure that God was leading us to educate our children at home, where we could be in control of what they were learning and the worldview it was coming from. We continued to pray and research, and were convinced that home education was the right choice for us. The year our son would have started Kindergarten, we were living in a rural area, and there was no way I was putting him on a school bus there; and we were preparing for another move, which would have been disruptive if he’d been in public school, so we knew we’d made the right decision.

Kym Thorpe family 1

What does a day in your homeschool look like?

Typical days can vary depending on what day of the week it is, but in general it goes something like this. I am up by 6:30 when my hubby leaves for work. I like to have some time to enjoy my coffee quietly and do my Bible reading, and get started on emails and blogging, and whatever else I need to do at the computer. Landon and Kennady are supposed to ready to start school by 9am, but we very often run late because they ignore their alarm clocks and I realize that I need to go wake them! They do most of their schoolwork independently, so I allow them to decide how to manage their time on schoolwork. I work with Kennady on some of her Science and Geography, so we prefer to do those subjects either first thing in the morning, or first after our lunch break. We take our lunch break shortly before noon, and then work on school from about 1pm to 3:30. Instead of requiring a set amount of time on each subject each day, I require them to spend about 5 hours on educational activities on regular school days, which they are supposed to keep track of in the student log books. I do “strongly recommend” to them that they work on Math every day. They are generally pretty good at meeting assignment deadlines.

Tuesdays are a little different from other days because Kennady has music lessons in the morning, and both kids have gym class in the afternoon, and activities in the evening as well. (Choir for Kennady, Civil Air Patrol for Landon) Landon now has a part-time job as well, meaning he works two days a week, so he has to sometimes do some schoolwork on Saturdays or in the evenings to make up for the days he is at work.

I do my best to grade as we go, but in reality I often have to catch up the grading every week or so.

Do you have a favorite “date night” you love to do?

We keep our “dates” really cheap! We do go out to dinner on special occasions, but it’s not a regular thing at all. Our favorite way to do “date night” is to turn an ordinary errand or event into something that just my husband and I do together, like a shopping trip followed by a stop for coffee or ice cream. We also like to go for a walk or a drive, and for a special treat we would go to a sports event.

What are some of your favorite mama-child activities?

Most of my mom-child activities these days are with my daughter. She and I have lots of good talks about music and about books, among other things. We watch movies together, and when she got a Pinterest account awhile ago, we set up several shared boards and I think that is a fun way to get insight into what she finds interesting, inspirational, and funny.

^

^

I find drive time to be so good for being able to have discussions with all my kids. As a family, we have made it a priority to have dinners together, in the dining room where there’s no TV, and I think that has been important in helping us have good conversations with our kids. Sunday lunch is almost always together, and we discuss the morning church service. Everyone in our family enjoys coffee, so on those evenings when we all are home and can share a pot of coffee, there’s another chance to connect.

We also serve in some of the same areas at church. Landon and Kennady are both in the youth group, and Harrison and I are both youth leaders. I am one of the worship leaders at church; my husband plays bass in our worship team; Kennady is regularly a singer in our team; Harrison fills in at drums sometimes; and Spencer and Landon both work regularly with the audio and visual part of the worship service.

Kym T button

Be sure to click over to visit Kym and her lovely blog!  One of her posts that I especially enjoyed lately was her Homeschool Weekly: Take A Break Edition.  It was so encouraging to me to read about how life and homeschool can happen in other families!

Thanks for visiting!

Enjoy!  –Wren

“Tales from the Circle C Ranch” ~ A TOS Review

Susan K. Marlow’s wonderful new chapter book is our latest TOS review item!

Tales from Circle C banner

We received two wonderful resources to read and review from Susan K. Marlow and Circle C AdventuresTales from the Circle C Ranch, her newest softcover novel about Andrea Carter; and the accompanying PDF study, Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook.

Who exactly is Andrea Carter; or Andi, as she’s known by her friends and family?  She’s a vivacious young girl/tomboy living on a California ranch in the late 1800s.  She loves her horse, Taffy; and she’s not that wild about school.  (Wouldn’t it just make more sense for her to stay home and help on the ranch?)  Her life is chock-full of adventures and experiences.  (Sometimes perilous ones!)  We were introduced to Andi for the first time when we reviewed Marlow’s Thick as Thieves earlier this spring; and she’s been beloved by our family ever since!  You can imagine how thrilled we were to have another chance to read more about Andi.

Susan K. Marlow, the author of the Circle C Adventures books, is marvelously gifted at creating characters that young readers deeply connect with.  Her books are also full of wonderful life lessons, which the characters learn in the midst of daily experiences; and sometimes, the wild adventures of American frontier life.  They’re also truly wholesome stories that every member of the family can enjoy.  I’d love to tell you more about the materials we received!

The newest Andi Carter book!

The newest Andi Carter book!

Tales of the Circle C Ranch

If you visit the Circle C Adventures website, you’ll discover many books about Andi Carter, beginning with her early years and going all the way up through her teen years.  (And, Marlow has more planned for the future!)  Tales of the Circle C Ranch is indeed about Andi; it’s a book of short stories that fills in the blanks of Andi’s life.  It tells us of many of her experiences that happen between books, in both her younger childhood days (the Circle C Beginnings books) and her tween years (the Circle C Adventures books).  Interestingly enough, this book was born out of fans’ questions about Andi!  And while the reader is enjoying these short tales of Andi’s life and relationships, he’s also learning about how life really was in those early days of the new state of California.

In Tales of the Circle C Ranch, we enjoy stories about:

  • Christmas trees, wagons and something unexpected
  • A Fourth of July parade and a crazy horse race
  • Andi’s persnickety aunt and a terrible hat
  • What happens when you combine a pet snake and a school desk
  • A trip to Washington territory–and how Andi became a heroine
  • and lots more!
Working on part of the lapbook

Working on part of the lapbook

Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Learning Lapbook

Do you know what a lapbook is?

It’s a fabulous hands-on learning experience for children.  With Marlow’s Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Learning Lapbook, students can explore more about the many themes, ideas and historical facts mentioned in Tales of the Circle C Ranch.  Using file folders and the PDF copy of the Learning Lapbook, students create a lasting memory that’s also a great learning experience, as they read about, cut out, color and write assignments connected to each chapter.  Here’s a sampling of the topics covered in the lapbook:

  • Clothing
  • The General Store
  • Fireworks
  • Weather
  • State Fairs
  • Writing a story
  • and more!

The lapbook activities are organized so that the child reads a chapter in the book, then completes related activities in the lapbook.  The assignments are creative and interesting, and provide wonderful additional learning experiences!

Our conclusions:

Based on our experiences with Susan K. Marlow’s writing, I can tell you wholeheartedly that we would grab ANY of her books to read!  Her characters are so real and vital, and their life stories are engrossing as well as fun.  We really became attached to Andi and her family.  (I even shed a tear after reading one chapter!)

Because we’d enjoyed Thick as Thieves so enormously, we decided to use Tales of the Circle C Ranch as a family read-aloud.  (The recommended reader ages are 9-14.)  The chapters are a great length for reading aloud.  Some chapters are divided into multiple sections (like “White Christmas” or “Hurrah for the Fourth of July!”), which lend themselves well to reading aloud, all while keeping the excitement of the story going.

"Tales from the Circle C Ranch"--Susan K. Marlow's newest!

“Tales from the Circle C Ranch”–Susan K. Marlow’s newest!

We loved reading more about Andi’s life.  I don’t want to give you any spoilers (because I want you to enjoy the book yourself!), but reading Tales from the Circle C Ranch not only gave us more context for Thick as Thieves but compelled us to want to read more of Marlow’s books!  It made us love Andi and her family even more, as we got to know them through their earlier stories.

Here’s what my son Jackson had to say about Tales of the Circle C Ranch:

“It was a good book, all the chapters were very well-written.  And she is a good writer, as always!”

You can purchase  Tales from the Circle C Ranch and the Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook at Susan K. Marlow’s website, Circle C Adventures.  I think you’ll love both of them.  As for us, we’re off to find more books about Andi and her endeavors!

If you’d like to read more about Crew members’ journeys with Andi, you can visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

 

Crew Disclaimer

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

 

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers ~ A TOS Review

How do you incorporate media into your homeschool?

 

SmartKidz Media banner

 

SmartKidz Media has created an amazing online media library especially for homeschoolers that’s exciting, informative, and full of excellent resources for your students.  We received a full year’s subscription of their SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers to review.  What a fascinating and helpful resource!

With a subscription to SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers, you can access videos on history, science, nature, and sign language.  There are also videos on art, music, culture, exercise.  You can even find ebooks and study guides.  And, SmartKidz Media is continually adding more!

SmartKidz Penguins

Here are the categories of resources in the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers:

  • World of Discovery (animals, wildlife, nature, fitness, history, culture, documentaries, cuisines, fine arts)
  • Music & Fine Arts (classical, cultural, blues and jazz, relaxation music)
  • Mighty Ebook Collection (ebooks for children from classic literature, poetry, science, Bible stories, and sing-alongs)
  • Baby Signs Program
  • My Animal Family (video books, songs and fun facts)
  • Quick Find Study Guides (language arts, math, science, social studies)
  • Learning Special Needs (audio books plus interactive books on foods, art, science, nature and more)
  • Living Skills Program (coming soon!)
  • Ready-Set-Sing Songs (more than 200 sing-along songs)
  • Fun Zone (games, puzzles, jokes, and riddles for little ones)

You might have noticed that the Living Skills Program above said “coming soon” in the parentheses.  SmartKidz Media is adding more learning videos all the time.  In the works are Action Sports and more U.S. History videos.  But that’s just what the website says today.  They truly are adding more programs all the time!

SmartKidz Art

Memberships vary from $10 per month to $99 for a full year’s subscription.  I can tell you that you definitely get your money’s worth!  You’ll need access to the Internet in order to stream the content.  We were able to stream both on my Kindle Fire and on our PC, although we found it more comfortable to use the Kindle.  Just because we could relax on the couch while we did it, rather than sit at a desk!

As you can tell from the content listing, the SmartKidz Media Library contains videos for the very young all the way up to high school age.  (Adults will enjoy them too!)

SmartKidz WWII

How we used the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers:

We received our subscription at the beginning of May and began to use it immediately.  Because our “formal” school year ends in May, we used it several times per week during that period.  Then in June, we do a little more schooling three times per week, in the mornings.  So we continued to watch and listen to the videos and recordings at that time.

We found it to be a truly enjoyable way to add “extra” content to our school days.  Some of our favorite subjects tend to be science, art and music, so we spent much of our time watching the videos in those categories.  (Although stepping into history is also great; the videos on WWII and the Cold War are particularly fascinating!)  My son Jackson and I watched them together, generally at the end of our school days.

SmartKidz Tiger

We really enjoyed the nature and animal programs.  Focusing on animals spanning the globe, the videos’ narratives are interesting and the cinematography is incredible.  And, the SmartKidz Media Library has so many nature videos focusing on insects, tiny animals, enormous beasts, and all kinds of habitats.

SmartKidz Classical

The music section was quite enjoyable as well.  SmartKidz Media presents music several ways.  First, by composer; you can click on any of the composers offered and listen to a wide variety of their works.  This is a wonderful adjunct to art, if you’d like to have music playing in the background.  Second, they provide videos on types of music and even instruments.  Third, they include classical music along with art study.  As you view paintings by an artist, you can enjoy classical music playing alongside the art slides.

SmartKidz Media Review
Our conclusions:

The SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers would be a fantastic adjunct to any homeschooler’s course of study.  For any age group, and for many subjects, students can access material (whether it’s audio, video or study guide) to provide extra and enjoyable learning time to their regular studies.  If you’d like to check out more, SmartKidz Media has a free 14-day trial available; just visit the FAQ page and click on “How Does the Free Trial Work” for more information.  I happily recommend this to you!

Social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smartkidzhomeschool
Twitter: https://twitter.com/smartkidzmedia

 

 

SmartKidz Media Review
 

Crew Disclaimer
Enjoy! –Wren

 

A Great New Book for Backyard Gardeners ~ A Review

Are you an avid gardener, like me?  If so, you must check out Karen Newcomb’s The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden!

Postage Stamp Garden image

I’m still what could be described as a novice gardener.  I’ve been doing backyard gardening for about 5 or 6 years.  A couple of years ago, we switched to raised bed gardening.  And we also have a few containers.  For our tiny backyard, it’s perfect.

But, I still have a lot to learn.  I’ve checked out a lot of gardening books from the library and have learned a lot from friends and family who garden.  But I must say, The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden is the best resource for small-space gardening I’ve yet experienced.  Karen Newcomb brings years of gardening experience and research to create a book that is just right for any small-space gardener, whether newbie or veteran.  This book contains everything from ground preparation, to seed selection, to planting….even maintenance and harvesting!  Whatever you’re looking for to help you in your backyard gardening, you will find in this book

Here are some of the sections of The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden that I found the most helpful:

  • Planning Your Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden.  Newcomb discusses companion planting, beneficial birds and insects, how to plan your garden, and even includes some wonderful plans for different types of gardens (winter/summer gardens, border gardens, herb gardens, and plans for differing sized ones.  There’s even a plan for a windowsill garden!)
  • A primer on every type of vegetable you can plant in your garden, including when to plant, how long to harvest, storage and growing tips

Summer 2015 282

  • Companion planting; what plants benefit each other the most when planted side-by-side
  • Natural pest control
  • Composting

Newcomb also includes lists of companies which sell non-GMO seeds and organic ones.  I was pleased to see my favorite seed company, Botanical Interests, on the list!

If you’re looking for a fantastic guidebook to growing tons of healthy and organic veggies in a small backyard space, this is the book for you.  You read this excerpt of The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden to see more of what’s in this book and to check out the author’s engaging style.  Karen Newcomb’s book is easy and enjoyable to read.  And, it’s arranged so that you can easily find whatever you’re looking for without having to resort to the index or table of contents.  (Although, it does include both of those!)

You can find out more about Karen Newcomb at her Penguin Random House author’s page.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

Family, Fun & Homeschooling ~ Featuring Brandy from Kingdom Academy Homeschool

Welcome back to another Family, Fun & Homeschooling!

F,F & H finchnwren.com

This week, I’d like to introduce you to Brandy from Kingdom Academy Homeschool.  Brandy is, like me, a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  We’ve reviewed “together” (meaning we’re both on the Crew but live very far apart from each other) for a couple of years.  Like us, she is a mama of boys, and she and her family live in our family’s hands’ down favorite vacation spot!  Read on to meet Brandy!

Tell us about your blog. What was the spark of the idea that enabled you to
create it?

When I first started homeschooling several years ago I did lots of research and
most of that was from blogs by other homeschool moms. I thought it might be fun
to do that myself. Then the opportunity to join the Homeschool Review Crew
came up and it just took off.

Do you have a favorite blogging topic that you return to again and again?

I LOVE to cook so I blog a lot of my favorite recipes.

Brandy and famTell us about your family. How did you and your husband meet? And what
would you like to share about your child/children?

My husband was my best friend’s older brother, so I developed a HUGE crush on
him back when I was 17. When I was 21 he finally asked me out on a date and
we married 8 months later. We are the parents to two very active boys and as a
family we love to travel and spend time outdoors.

Brandy B baby boys

What made you decide to homeschool?

I felt a real longing to be home with my kids and then I met a homeschool family
at church. I was already a middle school teacher and I fell in love with the idea.
With lots of prayer and conversation, I was able to convince my hubby to let me
give it a try and now he loves it too. He is a firefighter, so it’s nice to spend time
as a family on his days off.

Brandy B pool

What does a day in your homeschool look like?

Usually we get up in the morning and my high schooler gets to work on his own. I
do some subjects with my middle schooler, and try to get some housework done.
I am also a freelance writer so I try to spend a couple of hours on the computer to
get some work done. If my hubby is off and the weather is nice, we spend our
afternoons at the beach or by the pool. (We live in Florida so we pretty much
have year-round outdoor weather!) We like to end our day by taking our dogs on
a walk down to the river after dinner.

Do you have a favorite “date night” you love to do?

Pretty much anything. I love going out to dinner. We live near a couple of places
that offer music and comedy a few nights a week. We also hang out with friends.
Sometimes when the kids are at church, we order Chinese and watch movies.

 

Brandy B hub and fam

What are some of your favorite mama-child activities?

My youngest son and I love watching “Leave it to Beaver” on Netflix. My boys
and I also cook together and my oldest and I spend a lot of time sharing books,
movies, and music.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Homeschooling has been a huge blessing to me, and I love sharing our journey
on my blog. I also love reading homeschool blogs.

Brandy’s Bio: I am a happy homeschool mom of two active boys. Married to a firefighter.
Book lover and home chef. I love books, a nice glass of wine, mornings on the
beach, and walks in the woods.


 

I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Brandy!  Be sure to hop over to her blog and read about her awesome life as the only gal in an all-male household.  :)  (I can relate….we have just one less boy!)  One of Brandy’s recent recipes that I loved was her Spanish Shepherd’s Pie.  Check it out!

We’ll see you next week with another amazing homeschool blogger, in Family, Fun & Homeschooling!

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

“Pirate’s Code” ~ A FlyBy Promotion and Giveaway!

Are you looking for fun family movies to watch this summer?

If you are, I might have a great option for you!

 

Pirate Code pic

 

FlyBy Promotions has  provided me with a copy of the new film, Pirate’s Code, to watch and review—plus a copy for one winner of  my giveaway!

PURE FLIX ENTERTAINMENT (makers of God’s Not Dead) and 10 West Studios have made an action-packed, thrilling current-day pirate story.  In Pirate’s Code, Mickey Matson and his friend Sully (who’s a girl, by the way) follow up on their first adventure together (detailed in the film The Adventures of Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure).  This time, they encounter modern-day pirates who have a special weapon, the Tesla Coil, designed to destroy all electricity worldwide.

Before they meet the pirates, however, Mickey and Sully train at an academy which seeks to turn young people into young government agents.  Those who are specially gifted are chosen to attend this academy along with others to become members of the Secret Order of Patriots.  And even though they’ve already solved a huge mystery and developed a reputation as heroes, Mickey and Sully discover that they have a lot to learn about teamwork and working together.

Before it’s all over, they’ll encounter a deranged pirate captain, escaped criminals, a motley band of pirates, and new teammates from the Secret Order of Patriots.  Not to mention someone that Mickey had thought he’d lost forever!

Pirate’s Code is full of action and adventure.  There are some great lessons about teamwork, faithfulness, trust and family.  One of my favorite scenes involved electricity and “booping” someone’s nose.  And I really liked some of the CGI additions to the film.  We remembered again as we watched it, that it takes a lot of talent to make a movie and tell a good story!

I’d recommend Pirate’s Code for older children and teens, however; some of the perilous scenes might be too much for younger viewers!

Here’s a trailer you can watch to learn more!

And now, I have a copy of Pirate’s Code to bless one special reader with!  Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win your own copy!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

SOCIAL • C O R N E R  

Twitter:  @MickeyMatson
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mickey-Matson/211224175604758?fref=ts
Official Website:  http://mickeymatson.com
Trailer:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UMBliD1W3I
Official Website to Purchase:  http://pureflix.christianbook.com/adventures-mickey-matson-the-pirates-code/pd/03738X?event=ESRCG
Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Dynamic Literacy’s “WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 Set” ~ A TOS Review

Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we recently received Dynamic Literacy‘s excellent vocabulary development curriculum, WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 Set (Includes WordBuild the Game) to  use and review.  The WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 Set includes the Student Activity Book, a Teacher Edition, and a CD of WordBuild the Game for computers.

Dyamic Literacy banner 1

I am always interested to check out curricula which teach vocabulary  based on word roots, suffixes and prefixes and their meanings.  One of the college classes which had the most powerful and enduring effect on me was an upper-level class I took on Greek and Latin vocabulary.  In this class, I learned that I could decode the  meanings of words simply if I knew the meanings of their roots plus any suffixes or prefixes added to them.  I had always been a book nerd and had a decent vocabulary, but this class transformed the way I looked at words…and used them!

Because of this amazing experience, I’ve always wanted to teach my son the secrets of word decoding that I’d found so useful.  I believe that this is a skill that’s not only vital for SAT and other standardized tests and college prep, but for lifelong enjoyment and learning about words.  It can truly be a mark of an educated person.  So, introducing Jackson (who’s 13) to this world of discovery via Dynamic Literacy‘s WordBuild: Elements Level 1 was a fantastic experience.  And, one that will have a lifelong effect on him!

WordBuild: Elements Level 1, suited for students in grades 6-10, teaches 25 word roots from the English language in 28 lessons.  (Basically, that will give you a full year’s course.)  Each of these words is derived from either Latin or Greek, and comes in the forms of roots, suffixes and prefixes–the “key elements.”  These “key elements” are known as “morphemes,” which are simply the core parts of words.  The curriculum itself teaches these via games and exercises, rather than just rote memorization, so students enjoyably learn each morpheme by working on a lesson for about 15 minutes each day.

Teacher Edition, Elements Level 1

Teacher Edition, Elements Level 1

WordBuild: Elements Level 1 Teacher Edition

The Teacher Edition has everything you need to effectively teach this vocabulary course.  First, it gives an overview of how WordBuild works.  It outlines a lesson plan for each morpheme.  The book begins with some advance preparation for the first three roots (-form, -pon, and -vers).  These chapters cover the prefixes and suffixes which will be combined throughout the course with the word roots, and reminds (or teaches) students their meanings.  This helps students to understanding what meanings will result when they create words using these morphemes.  Then, lesson plans for the remaining 22 word roots follow.

Example of a lesson plan

Example of a lesson plan

Each lesson plan is so complete that, once you’ve taught the course for a few weeks, it will be very natural to just pick up the book and teach!  Each chapter contains a word root, along with 5 lessons to teach and reinforce it.  There is a list of materials needed (generally the Student Activity Book and a print or online dictionary).  We also utilized our own whiteboard for making lists of words.

Each day, the student plays a game which teaches him (very painlessly) about the word root, its meaning or definition, and how it can be combined with suffixes and prefixes to form brand-new words.  There is also a link to the Dynamic Literacy website listed, where teachers can find simpler or more challenging exercises for students as needed.

Student Activity Book

Student Activity Book

WordBuild: Elements Level 1 Student Activity Book

The Student Activity Book is what your child will be working in every day.  It contains 5 pages for each week/word root, with the following games and exercises:

  • Root Squares (where students combine a root with many prefixes and suffixes to form as many new words as possible)

    Jackson working on a Root Squares page

    Jackson working on a Root Squares page

  • Magic Squares (which introduces definitions for roots + suffixes/prefixes in a matching and numbers game)
  • Stair Steps (where students fill in prefixes or suffixes to form the missing words)
  • Comprehension Booster (students use clues to fill the right word into a sentence)
  • My Word Wall (lists of words learned, their synonyms and antonyms are recorded)

Following the instructions in the Teacher Edition, the student works on one of these one-page lessons each day.  The first four games build up to the last lesson of the week, My Word Wall.  By this time, the student has built a large new list of vocabulary words.  Best of all, he’s learned how to put morphemes together to create new words with new meanings!

WordBuild the Game

WordBuild the Game

WordBuild the Game

WordBuild the Game, which requires either a Windows 98 or a Mac OS X operating system, helps kids to take all that they’re learning in Elements 1 to learn to form new words in a competitive game.  Background music can be turned on or off (classical, funk, rock, jazz and more).  Students can play with a timer or not.

To play, students select one root from a list of more than 200.  Then, they select prefixes and suffixes from columns on the left and right of the game board to form new words.  Once they’ve composed a word, they click on “Check It!” to see if they’ve made a real word or not.  There is a button which allows students to print a list of the words they’ve composed, each time they play.  There’s also a “Help” button which plays a game instruction video.

How we used it:

Basically, we followed the course’s lesson plan as without any changes. It’s laid out so easily for the teacher; all I had to do was to follow the lesson plan as it was written, make sure a dictionary (we used the online dictionary.com) was available, and work with Jackson on each lesson.  He used WordBuild the Game on his own.  I let him pick the words he wanted to work on each day in the computer game, although I did figure out (sort of late in the game) that it was a better learning activity for him if he did the words in the game that we were doing in the physical lessons!

WordBuild the Game, for the word root "vent"

WordBuild the Game, for the word root “vent”

I introduced each word root, prefix and suffix to him (as the lesson plan indicated).  Then, we’d work together on the exercises in his book each day.  At the beginning of the course, I did more with him, but the further we progressed, the more he understood the exercises’ outlines and purposes, and the more he could do on his own.  In each chapter, there were “Word Fun Facts” to share; “Word Alerts” that showed similar words that weren’t from the same root; and learning extensions and “Mini-Lessons” which not only gave deeper understanding but helped keep things fun.  There are also mini-quizzes (the “Check-Up”) to test kids on their understanding of the work completed.

It’s important to do the lessons in order, especially the first six ones, which introduce both the teacher and the student to the prefixes and suffixes used with each word root in the course.  These lay the foundation, really, for the entire course, and equip the student to complete each lesson with understanding, and to build each lesson on the last ones (and last words) completed.

Our Conclusions:

I’m very impressed with WordBuild: Elements Level 1!  The Teacher Edition fully and easily equipped me to teach this vocabulary course.  Of course, I did have a good background on Latin and Greek word roots; but even if I hadn’t, I believe it still would have been very simple to teach this course.  The lessons are clear and enjoyable, and the exercises in the Student Activity Book build well on each other.  And WordBuild the Game was neat for several reasons.  First, it was fun for Jackson to play.  Second, it showed him easily how very many words can be made using these Latin and Greek roots!  Third, it was a great tool to use each day because it was one more exercise which enabled him to learn and know these morphemes.

I think that this course would be a huge asset for any homeschooling family who’s looking for a way to teach vocabulary and word roots in an effective and enjoyable manner!you can

WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 Set (Includes WordBuild the Game)  can be purchased from Dynamic Literacy  for $99.

And a special bonus for our readers:

Dynamic Literacy is pleased to offer you a discount!  If you use the code wren to purchase at http://www.dynamichomeschool.com, you can receive 25% off the books.  Or, you can use wren at http://www.wordbuildonline.com to receive 10% off.

You can also visit Dynamic Literacy at their social media outlets:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dynamic-Literacy/77106927761?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dynamicliteracy
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/dynamicliteracy/

 

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Enjoy! –Wren

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