Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Are you looking for a tool to aid in Spelling practice for your child?

Well, SpellQuizzer just might be what you've been looking for!

SpellQuizzer is a spelling program for helping children learn their spelling words.
SpellQuizzer is spelling software that helps students practice their vocabulary.
You can download pre-made spelling lists for SpellQuizzer from their web site.

I am not getting paid for my review of this product. The developer simply contacted me and asked me if I would be willing to use the program and review it on my blog. No strings attached! My review will be an honest review of how the program works for us. Thanks, Dan, so much for this opportunity!

For starters, I've only just downloaded the program this evening so I've not had a lot of time to play around with it..but let me just say that what I have seen so far is very impressive! For starters, SpellQuizzer wasn't designed with any one spelling curriculum in mind. That's right! It should compliment virtually any spelling curriculum that you use because you create your own custom spelling lists!

The program is available for a 30 day free trial after which you can purchase it for just under $30. To me, that's a great price..I mean, afterall, this is something you can use for years and long as your child is learning to spell words then this program will be a vital tool.

The only two things you need for this program to work for you are 1.)a Windows operating system and 2.)a PC microphone, which can be purchased for $10 or less at most retailers.

Ok, so once you download the program it creates a shortcut on your desktop. You can use that part of the program to create new lists for your child. It's SO easy...I created one in about a minute just to do a test run. You type in the word, record yourself saying it, and save it. This program works well for all children whether they are in public school or homeschooled. Basically you get the words that you want to use on the list and you say the word and a sentence using the word (if you wish). You save the list and then your child comes along and clicks the "quiz me on a list" button. He/She can play through the list and type in the spellings for each of the words.

On the SpellQuizzer website there are several spelling lists already made for you to download to your SpellQuizzer desktop program. Some of these lists include:

* Seasons, Months, & Days
* Sample Spelling Lists by Grade (grades 1-8!)
* Dolch Sight Word Spelling list (with over 300 sight words!!)

and many more!!!!

From what I can tell so far, this program is super! If your children are like mine any kind of computer work is "fun" work to them. Wouldn't this program be so much better than having to stand and call out spelling words night after night?

Make sure to check the SpellQuizzer website out for yourself, and in the meantime, check back here for more updates as we start using this fabulous program!

**Edited to add 4/22/09: After Dan read my review he invited me to participate in the SpellQuizzer affiliate program. Basically anyone that clicks on the SpellQuizzer picture at the top right on this blog and chooses to purchase the program I will make a little commission on the purchase (20%)...Likewise, if YOU purchase the program you too can become an affiliate and earn your own 20% by people checking out the link on your own blog or website! It's a great deal and a GREAT spelling software program!!**

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today was a GREAT day!

Wow..I'm almost speechless. lol..Ok, well anyone who knows me knows that's a lie! All I can say is that the workbox system is a miracle. Hunter LOVED it! Dalton did too! Dalton is only 4 so I didn't push him. He started on his first one and it was a Noah's Ark coloring sheet...we colored for a bit and he was dunzo. Only when Hunter hit his 7th envelope, which contained 2 suncatchers and paint, did Dalton decide that he might should get busy. LOL! Last night I explained to Hunter how the system would work (ie: he would do the folders in order from 1-12 and he would take breaks according to the little schedule that I had made.) Well morning comes and he's up before 8am...but Dalton is playing with in between eating breakfast he's playing blocks with Dalton. I reminded him twice that his school work was waiting..but I didn't push or force..finally around 9:30 I said "ok Hunter, let me put it like this...I don't care when you choose to start your school work but the tv will not be turned on until it is finished AND you have a baseball game this evening and if your school work isn't complete we will be sitting here instead of going to the game." wise boy, he decides to go to the school room and get started. He worked VERY well on his folders..I didn't time him on anything so some things took him longer than normal..He finally finished his last envelope around 3pm, which is way later than we normally are finishing up. On the flip side, we did finish, we did everything I had planned out, including "site word bingo" and an art project that included paint! I know that as soon as it gets a little warmer and he realizes that he wants to get in the pool in the back yard that he will get a little speed going. Of course, I don't want him rushing and not getting something..but he definetly could have worked a little quicker today. I reminded him once that had he gotten started when he first got up that he could be finished by now...this was about 1:30pm. He totally agreed so I expect tomorrow will be even better. This afternoon once he was finished he told me that he loved his workbox and wanted to do it again tomorrow!! I found putting together the boxes today was even easier than it was yesterday. Dalton finished all 12 of his envelopes today too! I am so proud of them! I took pics, but it's late and the camera is in a different room and I would, um, like have to get out from under my covers to go get it. lol (If only I had a Snugglie...ROFL!)

Also, our printer ink came in today so I printed of some cool Earth Day stuff to use for tomorrow and Hunter and I printed some "horse" stuff off for him to use in his lapbook tomorrow. Wooot!

Pics to come, I promise!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Worboxing and Lapbooking!

I feel like I am finally with the times when it comes to homeschooling. I feel like it's all starting to come together for us. It's been quite a journey so far and I feel like I have tried and flopped at so many things...but finally I feel like I have an answer to the issues. The first issue was Abeka...enough said (I blogged about it a few posts back). We've branched out and all of our curriculum for next year has finally all arrived and I am beyond excited! We have just over a month of school left and I can't wait until July 6th when we start our next school year!! Hunter will be in 2nd grade and Dalton in kindergarten. (Wow, can you believe they are that old already???)

In doing various research I have found so many wonderful bloggers that are so open with things that they have tried and have either flopped or have worked. It has helped me so much while I have been searching for something to keep school interesting, fun, and something we look forward to everyday! I fully believe that two of those answers come in the form of workboxing and lapbooking.

The workbox system was designed by a fellow homeschooling mom. It is a system that helps with so many skills, not only for your child, but for YOU,, the homeschooling teacher! YOU prepare the boxes (or in our case, folders) the evening before (I will do mine in the afternoon after school is over) and you get everything together that you need for any task that you put into the boxes. It helps the children have a visual of what they have to complete before they are done with school for the day and to some degree they are in control of getting it completed. In our house we have a "no tv before school is done" this will help that. I plan on using the folders until we are finished with this school year. If it's successful then I will probably go ahead and purchase each of the boys 12 boxes for next school year.

The next thing that we are starting to tackle is lapbooking. If you are new to homeschooling or you don't homeschool and you've just found my, the best way I know of to describe a lapbook would be to say it's like a mini scrapbook on one topic...though scrapbooking sounds gay for boys. LOL You can make them out of anything...file folders, notebooks, etc. I have some of those paper folders (you know, the kind with the brads that hold the paper in the middle?) so that's what we are starting with. You can make a lapbook on any subject/topic that you want...I've seen them on anything from horses, to letters, desert, etc etc etc...the possibilities are really limitless! I told Hunter that he could choose the first one he wanted to make and he picked "horses". So today we cut out the letters on some sticker paper that I have and he wrote the first page on why he chose horses as the topic. I ordered some ink for our printer (we've been out for AGES!) so he'll be able to print off some pictures, coloring pictures, and information on horses to use in his book. I am going to purchase a filing cabinet for the school room and we will file the lapbooks away and definetly pull them back out for review or reading fun on down the road.

I'm really excited about both of these ideas! We will start tomorrow with the workboxes. I just finished getting both of their boxes ready.

Here's what's in Hunter's 1st Grade Box
1. Awana book (verse)
2. Phonics worksheet
3. Phonics flashcards (work with mom)
4. Horse lapbook
5. My America, My World (history book) (work with mom)
6. Math worksheet
7. Art (tomorrow is painting two sun catchers)
8. Math subtraction flashcards (work with mom)
9. Reading
10. Health, Safety, & Manners book (work with mom)
11. Fun Math book on weights and measurements
12. Site Word Bingo (play with mom)

He will take breaks after every 3 folders. The first break is 15 minutes of free time, the 2nd break is do to chores off of his chore chart, and the 3rd break is another 15 minute free time. As you can see, this system has plenty of "work with mom" time as well as many things that he will be responsible for on his own. If I'm right there by him all the time he tends to need to ask me 600 questions when I know he can figure it out on his own.

Dalton is only 4, but he wanted to get in on the I gladly made him a workbox folder set as well. Here is what I've got ready for him.
1. Noah's Ark coloring page
2. Number worksheet
3. Fishing game
4. Awana book (verse)
5. Science book (A Robin Grows Up)
6. Art (same project as Hunter)
7. Reading book w/mom
8. Alphabet flash cards
9. Penguin audio book (book comes w/cd and the cd chimes when he turns the page..he loves them!)
10. Number puzzle
11. Number flashcards
12. Name writing practice

I will take some pics of the system and post them tomorrow! Can't wait!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

All About Spelling

I have found an AWESOME spelling curriculum and I just have to share it with you! It's called ALL ABOUT SPELLING! Do you remember in grade school we were given a list of words to memorize? Well not anymore!! All About Spelling is a program that explains spelling in a fun, hands on way that makes it easy to understand for kids! I went to my homeschool board looking for answers on some different curriculum and over and over several people recommended All About Spelling to me! After looking at their website I can see why. I was sold! The price is easily affordable. You pay around $26 for a kit that contains hands on letter tiles (we call them our Scrabble tiles), magnets for the backs of the letter tiles if you want to use them that way, and a cd rom. Then you purchase one kit per the level of spelling that you want to teach. For levels one and two the kit, which contains the teacher guide and student packet, is around $30. For levels higher, it's just a few dollars more. The great thing is that if you have multiple children/students, you only need to purchase a child packet and they are $12.95. Once you make the initial investment of the letter tile kit then you only have to order the teacher and student kit each year. Currently you can go as high as a level 6. Hunter will be in 2nd grade but we are starting at a level one since the curriculum we were using did nothing more than just hand out a spelling list.

So please, check out their website. I'm so happy with the program that I have decided to be an affiliate..which just means that anyone that purchases from them and uses my link I will get about 15% of the amount you purchase. Believe me, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think you would absolutely LOVE All About Spelling!!

If you are currently using All About Spelling please leave me a comment and let me know how it has worked for you!!