We’ve already been through preschool with three of our kids, but we still have one more to go. 🙂 As a result, I’m always on the lookout for tips for using homeschool preschool curriculum in our family. Even after six years of homeschooling, I still manage to find great suggestions for teaching homeschool preschool in the home.
Making Shark Art with Chalk Pastels
Hey everyone! One of my goals for the new school year is to include more art activities with the kids.
In our homeschool curriculum post for 2014-15, I mentioned one of the art curriculum products we’re using this year, so I’m sharing our experience with it today!
Our Favorite Picks from the Build Your Bundle Sale
Hi everyone! I got the chance to review four of the products in the Charlotte Mason Bundle for the Build Your Bundle sale and I thought I’d share our experiences with you all. You know, just in case you’re still on the fence about this great deal. 😉
The 2014 Build Your Bundle sale has ended. Look for next year’s sale! 🙂
Review: Hands-On Language with Lego Writing Prompts!
Note: I received a free copy of this product in exchange for this review. See our Disclosure Policy for details.
Our kids, like just about all kids, love LEGO blocks. Love them. But I never had the idea to combine LEGO building with writing. Renee Brown from Great Peace Academy did, though, and she’s put together some adorable LEGO writing prompts printable packs for just $1 each! We got the chance to try them out with the kids and they had so much fun building and writing their own stories!
Essential Skills Advantage Review
Good morning! It’s a new day at Look! We’re Learning! because today we’re featuring our first-ever sponsored post from our good friends at Educents!
The program we’re highlighting is Essential Skills Advantage and it’s an excellent reading and language computer program for children aged 4 to 12! In the past Essential Skills Advantage has been used in the public school system, but the program is now available for homeschoolers and tutoring!
This is a sponsored post. I received access to this program in exchange for this review. See our Disclosure Policy for details.
Essential Skills Advantage Review
A quick rundown of what the Essential Skills Advantage program consists of:
- Thousands of activities for grades K-6
- Reading, Language, and Spelling activities
- A $7.99 monthly membership that includes access to all seven grade levels
The multi-grade level access is what really won me over to the program. We decided to start Roo out with the kindergarten level, just to see how he did. He did so well at it that we’re going to go right into the first grade level with him afterward! Since Essential Skills Advantage allows parents to work on any grade level with their children, it’s simple to go up or down a level as you need to.
As soon as we started, I noticed that the program has a constant background sound of crickets and birdsongs. It literally sounds as if you’re sitting outside while you’re working. It’s very peaceful and relaxing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t contribute to Roo’s ability to sit still during the lesson, especially since he has ADHD.
We began with the “Picture Vocabulary” unit in the Complete Reading Grade K program. Rather than working on sight words and phonics right away, ESA starts with simple picture words that are paired with spoken words and related sounds.
For example, in the Animal Names lesson, students are shown a picture of an animal while they listen to the name of an animal being said. If the animal name and picture match, kids click a checkmark. If they don’t match, they click an “X”.
After the Animal Names lesson, we went on to Animal Sounds where Roo matched animal pictures with the sound they make. Since the program shows one picture and plays one sound at a time, it was easy for Roo to concentrate without becoming overwhelmed.
He could also click a picture of an ear when he needed to hear a sound again. The screen uses picture icons and very few words, so he was able to navigate it himself.
In the Food, Transportation, Action, and Clothing units, kids get to play a memory concentration game. They’re asked to flip over cards that match a picture with a written word. The program says the written word as well, which is great for kids who are still working on their reading skills (like Roo).
As they match cards, they get to see part of a picture below the puzzle. For Roo, that was a big incentive to finish the activity, since he wanted to see the finished picture underneath.
While Roo was working on the Transportation unit, he had to listen to transportation words to see if they matched the pictures of transportation vehicles such as bicycles, cars, and vans. After the word played, Jay would try to distract him by saying “He didn’t say ‘motorcycle’. He said ‘Popsicle’.” or “He didn’t say ‘truck’. He said ‘duck’.” Each time, Roo would say, “No, he said ‘motorcycle’.” or “No, he said ‘truck’.”, which just goes to show how well the program held his attention.
At the end of the Human Body unit, there was a word search activity. Initially, Roo was a little confused about how to do a word search, since it was his first time. We showed him how to look for the beginning letter of each word in the puzzle and then spell out the following letters to make sure he chose the correct word.
It wasn’t long before he got the hang of it. And the look on his face when he found his first word all by himself was priceless. 🙂
What was even more impressive to me about Essential Skills Advantage is that it was so engrossing, Roo sat at the computer for a solid hour and did not move ONCE. We’re talking about a boy who cannot utter a single sentence without turning around in a circle. And he sat in the chair for an hour working on this program. Incredible.
Happy four-year-old learner for the win!
One more thing I loved about Essential Skills Advantage is that it presents small challenges to kids to keep them on task. For example, in the Action Names lesson, Roo was asked to match pictures of action with spoken words. When the program would say a word like “walking”, he would have to look at three pictures and select the one that showed walking.
Of his three choices, two of the pictures rhymed. One picture showed someone walking, and another showed someone talking. That kind of challenge requires kids to practice active listening skills and deliberate attention on their tasks.
We absolutely loved using Essential Skills Advantage! It was a wonderful program that even managed to keep a four-year-old ADHD learner’s attention! If you’d like to learn more about ESA or sign up for a free trial, visit the Essential Skills Advantage website today!
Like this post? Check out some of our other curriculum reviews!
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Review: The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. See our disclosure policy here.
Good morning everyone! We got the chance to review a wonderful ebook that we’re sharing with you guys today.
When you’re homeschooling kids who are active learners, you find out pretty quickly that they need to take several activity breaks throughout the day. So when the book “The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks” by Heather Haupt was released, we were super excited to read about how we can make those breaks better for our kids.
We were already using a brain breaks system before this. I based it on a picture I saw on Pinterest. I just grabbed colored popsicle sticks and wrote different movements on them “Run in place for 30 seconds”, “Do 10 toe touches”, etc. And the kids could stick their hand in and grab whichever one they wanted. So I knew that brain breaks are a great way to help children regain their focus.
But here’s why I liked Heather’s book and system better. First, she begins the book with a scientific explanation of why all of us need brain breaks, not just kids. It turns out that periodic physical activity actually stimulates parts of our brains for learning. So moving around isn’t just good for kids – it’s necessary to help them learn effectively. That was very enlightening to me.
Within the book, Heather includes several printable brain breaks of her own and these are not the typical kid exercises either. They’re silly enough to make the activities fun, but they also include helpful training in balance work, coordination, and focus.
Pooh selected “Popcorn Pops” as his brain break activity. We weren’t sure how to do those, but “The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks” has full-color illustrations of several of the exercises and written descriptions of all of them, which helped us figure out what to do.
Basically, you crouch down to the floor…
And then explode out into a star shape. (Like a popcorn kernel popping.)
Roo picked the “Beanbag Balance Race” activity. Can you tell he was excited?
He and Tigger loved racing one another with beanbags on their heads! At first, Roo got frustrated because he kept looking down, which naturally made him lose his beanbag. Eventually, he got the hang of it.
We loved working with “The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks”! If your kids are active learners, I highly recommend this book to help you break up the monotony of the school day and to help them refocus their minds on learning!
Pick up your own copy of “The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks” below:
Review: Family Time Fitness
I received a copy of this program in exchange for this review. My opinions are my own. See our Disclosure Policy here.
Happy Wednesday all! I’m very excited for today’s post, because I get to share a review for Family Time Fitness, a complete physical education curriculum for families and homeschoolers! We had the chance to try out the Core Homeschool PE Curriculum with our kids and we had a blast!
At first, I was imagining that the curriculum would consist of a few basic activities for kids a week. Wrong! This is truly a full P.E. program. I remember doing less in a day of public school P.E. than we did in one day of this curriculum.
There are indoor activities and an outdoor activity scheduled for each day, which is great because you can use the program in any weather. We decided to head out to the driveway to try some of the Week 1 jump rope activities.
One of the first activities we did was called “Jumping the River”. You lay two jump ropes on the ground side by side and have everyone jump over the space in between. As the kids go across, you gradually increase the distance to challenge their abilities.
I think Roo may have a future as a long jumper.
After everyone “jumped the river” a few times, we took one of the jump ropes away and practiced jumping side to side over one rope on one foot. Turns out the kids need some practice on their balance and coordination. Jay jumped in to give Pooh a little coaching.
He’s got it!
And the crowd goes wild!
Along with the fun activities, the program explains how to warm up, how to cool down, how many repetitions of each exercise to perform, how many sets to do, and how long to rest in between sets. There are even demonstration videos linked within the daily plans to give parents a visual of how to perform each exercise. And the program has 220 lessons, which means it can serve as a full year’s physical fitness curriculum for kids of all ages!
This month is a special one for Family Time Fitness, because the company is participating in the Ultimate Homeschool Giveaway – a free sweepstakes featuring more than 500 prizes from leading homeschooling organizations and companies! Along with an entry for the grand prize, every single entrant receives $25 worth of free gift certificates and qualifies for discounts on select purchases!
To grab your free gift certificates and get a chance to win the grand prize, click the image to enter the Ultimate Homeschool Giveaway!