June 29, 2015

A Rain Forest Unit Study and Lapbook w/Tropical Parrot Craft

Exploring the rain forest is an adventure I'd love to do. In like a bubble. Because there are a lot of things there that can hurt or eat me (LOL). Instead, I choose to explore the rain forest through books. I was able to share my love of the rain forest with the boys using this month's Poppins Book Nook theme: Forest and Woods. We did a unit study using the book The Great Kapok Tree as our primary resource and had fun creating a lapbook to share our new knowledge.
Rain Forest Unit Study with Lapbook and Tropical Parrot Craft


The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

I had so much fun pulling together the materials for our study this month. Since we are out on summer break, we are only doing light schooling, which means that a unit study on rain forests worked perfectly! I will share with you the books we read, the lapbook we created, the craft we made, and then the printable I designed that all revolve around this topic. I hope you get inspired!

Our Books


by Lynne Cherry

One day, a man exhausts himself trying to chop down a giant kapok tree. While he sleeps, the forest’s residents, including a child from the Yanomamo tribe, whisper in his ear about the importance of trees and how "all living things depend on one another" . . . and it works.

This book is so beautiful and lush with the fabulous illustrations. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was going to be our spine for our unit study. The book sets up an introduction to the rain forest brilliantly by talking about the different layers, the locations of rain forests, and then sharing several different animal species living in the rain forest through the plot of the book. The boys loved the story right from the start and eagerly examined every page to see what they could find hiding in the paintings. 

We came back to this book several times over the course of our study, to review what we had learned and see how it applied to the book. 

Afternoon on the Amazon (Magic Tree House #6)
Mary Pope Osbourne

Vampire bats and killer ants?

That's what Jack and Annie are about to run into when the Magic Tree House whisks them away to the Amazon River. It's not long before they get hopelessly lost. Will they be able to find their way back to the tree house? Or are Jack and Annie stuck forever in the rain forest?

After we had spent a day learning about the rain forest, I read Afternoon on the Amazon out loud while the boys ate their lunch. We paused several times to talk about what was going on in the book and how it related to things we had learned. There were several tie ins that even Baby Britches was able to volunteer information. This was actually their first experience with a Magic Tree House book, and I think they really enjoyed it and will be interested in reading another one.

by Jean Craighead George

Doomsday — It is dawn, and young Tepui makes his way through the rain forest. He treasures his tropical homeland and all of its wildlife, from the giant Coco de Mono tree to the tribe of playful monkeys to the colorful treetop birds. But today is doomsday for Tepui's beloved rain forest. Eleven bulldozers and four trucks will soon arrive to level the forest. Tepui is desperate to stop them, and there's just one way he can do it. He must discover a butterfly no one has ever seen -- by the end of the day.

This was a great book to read pieces of for the boys. It fit perfectly with talking about the problem with destroying the rain forest and to give a broader picture about what the rain forest is like to someone living in it. We might read the whole book later, but for now, I just wanted pieces to give them an idea on the reasons for taking care of the forest.

Jungle (Eyewitness Books)
by Theresa Greenaway

Discover life in the tropical rain forest--from the exotic birds in the tree tops to the millions of insects on the forest floor

Jungle is a great book to share even more information about the world of the tropical rain forest. We all loved the brilliant photos of the creatures making the rain forest their home and the extra tidbits of information. This book helped us learn more about the rain forest layers, seed dispersal, hidden dangers, the homes animals and insects make, medicines and other products that comes from the rain forest, as well as famous explorers. I love the Eyewitness Books series because they really help expand whatever you are studying, especially when it relates to things in nature. The boys continue to look through this book because they just love all the photos.

Animals of the Rain Forest
by Windows On Nature
ISBN:9781900933858

Full of fascinating animal facts and stunning illustrations, this charming introduction to the wildlife of the rain forests will amaze and delight every young reader.

This is one of the books that I went through with Baby Britches. He loved all the animals and enjoyed having me read about them. Though not available on Amazon, we found this book at the library and I hope you can too, because it is a good one. The window cutout is a very cute way to present the animals.

There are so many other books about the rain forest that would be great for unit study, but these were the ones I found at our library that worked perfectly for what I wanted.

Our Activities


Our primary activity over the course of our study was to have each boy make a lapbook. I love lapbooks, but it had been awhile since I had the boys make one. We all had a great time putting them together and they will be able to pull the out to look out over and over again. Here are some photos of our lapbook sessions:

Locating South America, Brazil and the Amazon River

Baby Britches working on coloring his frogs for this frog match

Adding in the real life photos

Matching the types of lines in his booklet with the lines he sees on the trees in the forest
Rain Forest Lapbook
Complete lapbooks
You can see that I kept some of their things the same, and others different. It worked very well and with all the materials out there it was easy to pick what worked for each boy.

Our materials for completing the lapbooks:
*Magic School Bus: In the Rain Forest episode

Our Tropical Parrot Craft

Since Baby Britches favorite animal from our unit study was the toucan, I decided that we would do a parrot craft to finish off our week. I used the pretty parrot template from I Heart Crafty Things for the bird body, beak and feet. I added the streamers for wings and tail like was suggested on this parrot craft by Ramblings of a Crazy Woman, to make our fun and colorful parrots.
Tropical Parrot Craft by Farm Fresh Adventures


Materials:
*Template from I Heart Crafty Things for body, feet, and beak
*Colored construction paper or cardstock
*Colorful crepe streamers
*Googly Eyes
*Glue, Scissors, Tape

Directions:
1. Print the template on paper and trace onto construction paper, or print template on colored cardstock. 

2. Cut out the body, beak and feet (x2). Attach to the beak and feet to the body.

3. Trim at least 2 colors of streamers about 8" long for wings and at least 12" for tail. 

4. With Scissors, make slit for the wing streamers and for the tail streamers. Put each set of streamers together and pinch end and then pull it through the appropriate slit about 1". Tape down.

5. Glue on googly eye. 

Baby Britches wanted TWO sets of wings, so I just attached some completely on the back of his bird. Little Britches wanted to give the bird a very long tail, so we did streamers about 3 feet long for his birds tail.



Enter the Woods with The Gruffalo Bundle Giveaway! 
Get ready for some fun in the woods with this month’s Gruffalo Bundle Giveaway! The Gruffalo is a fun children’s book set in the woods and has a very funny, yet easy to follow story. This month the Poppins Book Nook group has partnered with NCircleEntertainment to offer readers a chance to win a brand new copy of The Gruffalo storybook, The Gruffalo DVD, and the Gruffalo’s Child DVD. This month’s lucky winner will enjoy all this woods themed family storybook and DVD fun with their family compliments of NCircle Entertainment and the Poppins Book Nook co-hosts.

Entrants must be 18 years or older and reside in a country that receives U.S. Postal mail. This giveaway is brought to you by the company NCircle Entertainment in connection with Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook. 

By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the PromoSimple terms & conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom's disclosures found here {http://enchantedhomeschoolingmom.org/disclosures/}.  Just enter the PromoSimple below to win:


I hope can take a moment and check out some of the posts from my Poppins Book Nook co-hosts to see what they did for their Forest and Woods books.



Do you have a post relating to literature set in the forest or woods? We would love to check it out!
An InLinkz Link-up


*****
We had so much fun learning about the rain forest and it was great to get back into a unit study again! Later this week, I will be sharing links to the new rain forest themed printables that I made for the boys, that I think you will enjoy. I hope you will check out some of my previous Poppins Book Nook posts for storybook and activity ideas, and then tune in next month when we dive into exploring famous composers!
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June 23, 2015

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers {Product Review}

If you are like me, you like being able to give your child a bit of freedom to watch educational videos online, but you also know that there are very few places where you can feel 100% safe with what they have access too. When I learned about SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers from SmartKidz Media, I was very interested to do a review on the company since they claimed to be a family friendly, kid friendly, ad free site. Would they offer a safe place for my boys to explore and enjoy videos online?
SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers~ Product Review

Product Summary

SmartKidz Media is a producer and distributor of excellent educational videos, flash-animated ebooks, interactive study guides, music, and many other fabulous media resources. They offer all of these in a media library geared for parents and students in a homeschool environment. SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers, offers video-streaming and even Cloud friendly to make their website on the cutting-edge of technology. Homeschoolers are offered a full range of curriculum complimenting video topics from fine arts, to the animal kingdom, to history, to physical education and much more! 
Because this is all through a website, it can be accessed and streamed on any internet friendly device 24/7!  This also means that you don't have to worry about downloading the things you want to see--it will be there whenever you want it, without using up any of your computer or devices memory!
Did you know that SmartKidz also offers their digital media library on your TV with a Roku streaming media player? It also can be shown on any Google TV enabled Smart TVs. These are great options for maximizing your subscription to this product!
SmartKidz Media Library can be used on any computer or mobile device as long as you have access to the internet, but the eBooks require your devices to also run Flash Version 10.2 or higher to work properly. For iPad and iPhone users, the company is working on creating a free app to allow access to the eBooks and once the app is completed, users of these devices will simply need to download the app for it to work.

The subscription to SmartKids Media Library comes with a 14 day free trial where you can see for yourself what all is offered by this company. A subscription to the site is $10/month or $99/year and comes with UNLIMITED viewing. And unlike many other video sites, there will be no ads, no links, no popups. It's a family friendly website.
Our family was given a year subscription to SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. We used the product on two laptops (Chrome browser), and a Kindle Fire HD.

How Did We Use This Product?

Once I was given the log-in information (which is self explanatory and easy to set up), I just started looking around to get a feel for what there was to offer my family. I can easily access it on my Kindle Fire HD or my computers (I have Windows XP on one and Windows 8 on the other using Chrome for both browsers).
The library is set up into 10 different categories for you to browse:

*World of Discovery
The largest category containing videos on everything from animals and wildlife, to action sports, to Documentaries and Culture, to Health and Fitness, to History, to Science, to Lifestyle and Cuisine, and more! And every section of this category has at least 5 videos and each video is at least 15 minutes long--some are up to an hour! It's a treasure trove of videos and they have more in the works!
One of the Documentaries & Culture collections
*Music & Fine Arts
This category contains a collection of CD's put into a form where you can simply play them from your device. Introduce your children to the classical music masters, enjoy music for relaxation, jazz & blues or cultural selections.
Example playlist from the Jazz & Blues Collection
*Mighty eBook Collection
Here is a category full of eBooks that your child will love and enjoy. They are separated by age and topic--from story songs, to Aesops Fables, to Mother Goose, to fun mini science books, to just fun eBooks! Every book is read aloud automatically with the words highlighted making it very easy for your child to follow along.
Boys Watching/Listening to their Favorite eBook from the Collection
*Baby Signs Program
This category introduces the Baby Signing program! With these videos you can learn how to teach your baby simple signing--and your whole family will be able to learn too! There is even a whole section that is a Video signs dictionary--and a topic all on potty training!
*My Animal Family
This category is full of videos teaching your student all about family values and respect for animals. The series follows 5 animal families (lion, chimpanzee, elephant, dolphin and polar bear), and teaches your student about what life is like for a youngster within the species. Narrated by kids, your student will enjoy learning more about the families of these special animals!
*Quick Find Study Guides
This is a very interesting category. It is full of study guides to sort of crash course teach your child relating to a different subjects or topics--from spelling rules, to punctuation, to the 50 states, the presidents, the constitution, science, math, accounting, foreign language and more!
Here is a study guide for the 50 States...you click on a state and you see all this information
*Learning Special Needs
Do you have a child with special needs? SmartKidz Media Library has a section perfect for you! It was designed for children and individuals with disabilities and various other special needs. The themed books and lesson materials were created by special needs educators and therapists to give special needs children what they need to better understand themselves and the world they live in.
*Living Skills Program
This category is still in the "coming soon" stage, but will be a place where your student can enjoy learning little songs to help them learn how to take responsibility for themselves, their relationships with others, and their responsibility in the world around them.
*Ready, Set, Sing
Does your child love music? Then this category is for them! It contains over 200 sing-along-songs guaranteed to bring fun to your child's day!
One of the Karaoke Videos
Watching one of the Karaoke Videos

*Fun Zone
Last but none the least, the fun zone is a place where your child can enjoy fun educational games and puzzles! New content is being added here regularly!
So where did I start? Well I let each boy pick what they wanted to do and both headed to the eBooks to start. This soon became their favorite category and they have watched every single eBook SEVERAL times. 
Another category they like is the World of Discovery. Little Britches especially likes the nature videos and has been enjoying checking each one out. I enjoy the history and cuisine videos and am working my way through them myself. Both boys have enjoyed learning more about animals in the My Animal Family category, though Baby Britches prefers it over Little Britches. I think the elephant family is his favorite.
We've spent some time exploring each of the categories, but didn't spend a lot of time in the Fine Arts &Music, Baby Signs or Special Needs categories. They are great categories, but not areas that my family needs right now. 
Baby Britches loves to sing though, so he has recently been enjoying the Ready, Set Sing category where he can hear favorite songs and watch the little videos that go with them. Another thing he likes is the Fun Zone. Especially the puzzles and hide and seek games.
Playing the mouse and cups hide and seek
Everything is easy to navigate and clearly marked, making it very user friendly--even for my youngest (age 4).

What Were Our Thoughts On This Product?

Both boys love being able to have the freedom to explore the site and I am 100% comfortable with them doing it. I have previewed videos from most all the sections and find them to be mostly appropriate for what our family watches.

There are a few cons I will mention about the videos:

*Language
On the Animal Soap Operas, the phrase Oh My God is used and maybe a couple other euphemisms that our family does not use nor approve of. Because of that I did make the decision NOT to allow the boys to watch these. But there are only 3 videos (I think) and it doesn't take away from the site at all.

*Nudity
In learning about the cultures of the world, there are videos of tribal nations. This means there is some nudity that comes up--but it's done as part of learning about the culture. Our family is okay with this because it's just how people live; however, we will watch it together so we can discuss it when it comes up. But some families might not want their children seeing this without warning.
*Evolution
There is mention of the evolutionary theory in the nature videos. The company is a worldview program, so there will not be mention of God or Christianity in the lessons in general. We are used to this in most of the nature documentaries out there, so while I prefer it not to be there, it's not anything we haven't already spoken about. 

*Old School Video Style
I say this because some of the videos are early 90's in graphics and quality--predominately in the eBooks or the Ready, Set, Sing videos. While it isn't a big deal, it would be nice to bring the videos up to date as the company continues moving forward.
*Clothing
I did not like the apparel of the people doing the exercise for kids. The girls and woman were wearing two piece exercise outfits that showed off their midriffs and really just wasn't necessary. It would have been much better with them wearing just shorts and tank tops or t-shirts. Because this is not a "cultural" thing like the tribal nudity complete linked to their culture, I prefer it to be covered up.
In summary, though there were still a few things I had issues with, overall I felt that it was a good program and one that we will continue to use over the next year. I can see how some of the areas would be easy to work in with current things you are studying, or could be used for writing reports. I liked that the website streamed perfectly on my Kindle, which meant that Baby Britches would be able to watch videos right along us while we worked on other things.
Watching the videos on the Kindle Fire HD

Would I Recommend This Product?

Hmm. If you are needing a media library to draw from to help you expand what you are working on with homeschooling, and need it all in one place with unlimited access, then yes. If you are looking for a place where your child can safely navigate and explore learning videos without worrying about content, adds, links, pop-ups, ect. then yes. 
Would I have purchased a subscription to this product? No. Because of what it is created for--for homeschoolers to have one place to find a plethora of educational videos without seeking them out-- while very great, it's not something that I particularly need. It's an extra. I have access to a lot of videos and I rarely let my children have screen time without my watching eye. So I don't "need" a site like this. And I don't have the funds to really pay for an extra like this--without it having a major role in our homeschool, which it wouldn't.
BUT--since we do have it, I do enjoy being able to let my boys explore the site, knowing that all the videos are going to be appropriate and without all the things that cause issues as I mentioned above. I only ask that they tell me what they are going to watch so I can make sure it's something I've previewed first.

Want To Know More?

I reviewed the full year subscription to SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers from SmartKidz Media. You know what we think about it, but why not check out what the rest of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thinks--and enjoy seeing some more of the videos offered by the site.
SmartKidz Media Review
If you want to learn more about SmartKidz Media, make sure you connect with them on these social media outlets:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smartkidzhomeschool
Twitter: https://twitter.com/smartkidzmedia
***
I was happy to find out that this website provided some great videos and read aloud books for the boys to enjoy without the junk ads and constant external link access other websites have (like YouTube). I also was glad that I can let them work through the videos without having to regularly worry about what they are watching. I look forward to continuing to let them use SmartKidz Media over the upcoming months--especially on road trips!
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June 21, 2015

Fresh From the Kitchen: Kickin' Up the Heat with Green-Chile Corn

Summer time means that your garden starts producing tasty things for you to start incorporating into your daily meals! Things like corn, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon...and much much more! We always harvest corn and peppers so I'm always seeking out ways to use our harvest. This recipe for Green-Chile Corn is definitely a way to use up some of that corn--and maybe even some home canned chiles! If you like Tex-Mex, you have got to try this recipe from today's guest blogger Lori of At Home: where life happens!
Green Chile Corn Recipe
The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

I am spoiled by having a fantastic grocery store that has fresh foods year round. And if they don't have it fresh, they probably have it frozen. We are spoiled for that year round freshness. However, there is almost nothing to beat fresh-from-the-garden corn. I love it!

 photo New Mexico green chile flavor_zpskjuvnwsw.jpgI'll share a tid-bit with you, though. I like it even more when you add good, fresh New Mexico green chile. I am a NM girl, through and through. And there is a difference in taste to me when it comes to green chile. I want mine from Hatch or 505, if possible. If not, somewhere in NM.

Now, take those two amazing flavors and mix them together and you have my absolute, all-time favorite dish. Toss in a little cheese and it will be perfect. I have been known to eat that as my entire meal. And, I'll be completely satisfied. But, if that doesn't sound like a meal to you, try it as a side dish. It is just as good and complements any grilled main dish or roasted meat, such as chicken or fish, well.

Don't trust me, though. Try it for yourself!

Green-Chili Corn


Ingredients for 4 1/2 C servings:
*2 C fresh or frozen corn kernels
*1/4 C green chile **see note below**
*1/2 C grated cheddar cheese

Just mix these ingredients together, heat, and serve. You can add or reduce each ingredient to your liking. This is the combination that seems to please the most people, but the amount of heat in the green chile is known to vary widely.

**I prefer my green chile canned in a jar. It will be green chile, some lime, and maybe a little salt. That is all it needs. There are several brands from NM but I know that 505 will ship in the US and theirs is really good. You can get Hatch brand chile in a can in lots of places. There is also frozen green chile but that is a lot harder to find.

***
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I am Lori and you can visit me: At Home: where life happens. I enjoy writing and share about the education of our three girls at home, product reviews, and life in general. We laugh, love, and have fun while striving to serve God. Please stop by to see what we are up to.
***
Oh my. Doesn't that just make you want to give it a try? I think it must be fabulous and I'm planning on trying it this summer as a side with some of our grilling meals! Speaking of grilling, now would be a great time for you to also check out my post with 5 Tasty Marinade and Rub Recipes! Or you could wash it down with a glass of Summer Fun Lemonade!
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June 19, 2015

From Peelings to Potatoes~ A Gardening Cinderella Story

About 2 years ago, we decided to dive into the world of a family garden. One of the crops that Love-of-My-Life was adamant about planting was potatoes. His father, however, told him that we wouldn’t be able to grow them because he himself, had never been able to. Well, we took that as a challenge, and since our property does not have the same soil as his does (ours has far less clay), we were very hopeful that we could successfully grow a potato crop. What we didn’t realize at the time was, we were going to be discovering one of the ultimate forms of vegetable recycling (and a serious money saving tip) in the process.
When you decide want to grow potatoes, the first thing that everyone tells you that you need is…potatoes! It is commonly known that seed potatoes are the way to grow your next years potatoes. But what do you do, if you don’t HAVE seed potatoes? This was our dilemma the year we decided to grow our own potato crop.  We didn't have any, and we really didn't want to spend the money to buy any. So what did we do? 

We looked in our potato bin.
The name says it all! :0)
The previous year, we had purchased a monster bag of potatoes from the wonderful store Costco. And it was a monster bag. I think it was 15 or 20 lbs. We are potato people. I haven't yet met a potato I didn't like. But, it always ends up that by the time you get to the bottom of the bin, there are less than desirable potatoes waiting. Usually they are soft. Really soft. And if they are actually GOOD and untreated potatoes (which MOST of what you buy is NOT--go with organic to make sure), they might even be starting to grow sprouts, or as we commonly refer to them…eyes. Most people will throw out a bin of potatoes that look like this.
You might not want to eat these...but they are perfect for planting!
That year, we discovered that our potatoes at the bottom of the bin had quite a few eyes.

Because the eyes were growing well and since eyes of potatoes are really "potato sprouts", we wondered: "If we planted these, would they grow?"

So rather than throwing out the soon-to-be-rotten potatoes-that-no-one-wanted, we pulled them out and examined them. Each of them had at least 5 or 6 eyes and they were fairly spread apart. So Love-Of-My-Life got out his knife and started slicing them apart. He figured that since it was the eye that was the sprout, he could separate them out and they might grow as individual plants. Much like separating out a cluster of tubers in your flower garden. Now instead of one potato to plant…we had 5 or 6! He continued doing this for the rest of the potatoes in our bin…then got the same quality (or lack there of!) of potatoes out of his dad’s bin and repeated the process. By the time he was done, he had a nice big bucket of sprouted potato chunks to plant.

But then we REALLY took a chance. Love-of-My-Life’s mother came out with a big bowl and asked us if we wanted “it”. What was it? It was a bowl full of PEELINGS!!!

Peelings? Why on earth would we want peelings, right? We thought the same thing at first.

But wait…you see when she peels a potato, she actually pares it. Meaning she uses her KNIFE and does more of a slicing than a peeling. This meant she had chunks of peel with eyes attached! Yep, in her effort to use up the last of the potatoes, she had carefully pared them leaving the eyes intact, then used the rest for her mashed potatoes. (If that isn't making your potato go the distance, I don't know what is!) So she was giving us a bowl of peelings with eyes.

Could THESE actually be planted and produce something?
The peelings with eyes. No smaller than a quarter.
We decided it was worth a try, because we had nothing to lose and everything to gain! So we planted it all—the sliced apart potato chunks with eyes and the peelings with eyes. It was most definitely a gardening adventure.
Baby Britches helping plant the potatoes

Love-of-My-Life sorting through our box of peelings and chunks

Carrying the next batch to plant
So what happened? Well…we waited. And waited. and then....
They grew!
Rows of big beautiful lush potato plants!

We wouldn’t believe it at first, but everything we planted grew to be big beautiful potato plants! They grew phenomenally where we had them planted. Our cat used the patch as a jungle of sorts to explore and snooze in. And at the end of the season (when all the plants lie down), we all eagerly waited to see what we could turn up underneath…for that is where the treasure of the potato hides. 
Treasure hunting under the plants for potatoes

And low and behold…our peelings had become…POTATOES! 
So excited about the potatoes he found!
That first year, we harvested 75 lbs of potatoes. Yes, you read that right. From maybe 30-50 almost rotten potatoes that we sliced or pared to keep the eyes (instead of throwing them out like most people do), we harvested 75 lbs of NEW potatoes! It was a definite success and we’ve been using the same process ever since with the same fabulous results! And the cool thing...now the potatoes we are using for our plantings each spring, can all trace their "roots" back to those first few peelings...
Some of our harvest from last year
So please—before you go and invest in seed potatoes—look in your potato bin! It’s the real Cinderella story for gardening…for who would have thought you could turn rotten peelings into next years big rugged potato crop?!

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June 15, 2015

Dynamic Literacy~ Promoting Exponential Learning {Curriculum Review}

When it comes to teaching English, I love products that follow the "K.I.S.S." rule of thumb: Keep It Short and Simple. We have found a few over the last year that worked great--and I'm always on the look out for more. When I discovered that I was going to review WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 from Dynamic Literacy, I was encouraged that my initial glance showed it was going to be something that met my requirements, and hoped that using it would prove it to be so.
Dynamic Literacy~ WorldBuild: Foundations, Level 1 Product Review

Product Summary

Dynamic Literacy
WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 from Dynamic Literacy is the first in a series of vocabulary products created for students from third grade to adult education. Once the phonics have been learned, Foundations is the next step to increase vocabulary usage and comprehension. The Foundations program helps students "mean out" words, the way that they "sounded out" phonics! The principle behind the program is that once your student learns basic words, they should move on to learning prefixes, suffixes, and compound words to exponentially increase their vocabulary very quickly and thus enhance their comprehension of vocabulary at the same time.

WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 is ideally for students in the 3rd to 5th grade level, but could also be used for remedial 5th-9th grade work OR for ESL students.
The Foundations, Level 1 program is available as a combo pack and retails for $82.99. It contains everything needed for a teacher and one student:
*Teacher Edition (non-consumable)
*Basics Student Activity Book (consumable)
*Student Activity Book (consumable)

Dynamic Literacy also has in their catalog the WordBuild: Elements, Level 1 set (geared for middle school/high school), and an online program called WordBuildOnLine
We were given the WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 to review with Little Britches.

How Did We Use the Product?

WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 came as three books. Two of them were consumable student workbooks (Foundations Level 1 Basics Student Activity Book, and the Student Activity Book) and one was the teacher manual. As always, I started by looking through the first few pages of the teacher manual to get an idea about how the program worked.  There is a 5 day lesson overview of each root being learned, the lessons each follow a “teach, complete, and discuss” method, there are step-by-step procedures to help with the teaching activities, all the coordinating page numbers in the student book are clearly noted, and there is a “road map for a typical weekly unit” showing you how to use each unit over 5 days. It was really easy to see that each lesson was meant to be short and could easily be worked in at any time during the day. Because of this, I decided to start using it the very next day. 

We began with the Basics Student Activity Book as a kick off point for our studies. It wasn’t very difficult, and the teacher manual says that it can be skipped if it’s too simple. It was all relating to talking about prefix and suffix use, which while we have touched on these, haven’t really covered them in depth, hence the reason I decided to move forward with using the Basic workbook first. I noticed really quickly that the program is actually set up to be used with more than one student—a class even—but I can use the same material and same included dialogue for just my one student. 

One of the first things we needed to do was make a prefix and suffix chart. I didn’t have a large piece of paper on hand, but I just put together two half sheets of poster board to make our poster. I labeled it and section it out as I was directed in the teacher manual.
Once this was full, I just attached a second sheet at the bottom
As we worked through the lessons in the Basics book, we filled in the information for any new prefix or suffix that we learned. 
Learning prefix and suffix with common words
Practicing compound words
More compound work
Because this went up on our board, Little Britches was able to reference it as he continued in the lessons and it helped him work independently in completing his worksheets.
I laugh at the "ing" examples. They so show that I am a mom of farmboys. LOL
Once we completed the Basics book, we started in with the larger student activity book. 
The book picks right up continuing in the prefix studies, but this time goes with words that are more of the compound style like “over, under, out , etc”. The units for each are definitely 4-5 day lessons, but you could combine a few of the activities if your child is needing to be a bit more challenged.
As of this week, we are on page 14 in the larger workbook. We completed 1-2 pages with every lesson, doing 3-4 lessons a week.

What Are Our Thoughts on This Program?

Little Britches:
“It was okay. Not my favorite subject. But it wasn’t hard. I liked the word searches and the prefix pages the best. I like that it’s short and easy.”

Me:
I like that this program was very much an open and go one. I liked that it could go with just about any English and/or Grammar program you are already using and that the lessons were short and easy to complete. The teacher manual was very teacher friendly and contained everything you needed to know or use for the curriculum. If there were extra things needed, the manual clearly explained how to do them or make them (like the prefix/suffix poster). There was dialogue there for anyone who needed it, but it was easy to do on your own. I really liked how when a new unit was introduced, I could quickly look over the unit to see what was going to be done for each day. I loved the extra little notation that “each activity should take approximately 15 minutes.” That fits into my recommendation that it is easy to add into any program without taking up extra time.

The only thing I didn’t really like was that the pages of the teacher guide were perforated. I found that I had pages trying to jump out of my book when I didn’t want them too. I would offer up the suggestion that the book either be hole punched so it can go into a binder, or add a spiral binding to it. I think this would be greatly appreciated.

So will we be continuing to use this program?
Yes! Though we are taking a break from our extras right now over the summer, I will be putting this into our school day when we start back full time this fall. I think it’s a great program and blends in well with what we are already doing, as our current studies are not heavy into what is being covered by the WordBuild program.

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes, I would (with one exception). I think it’s a great program and very easy to integrate into what you are already doing. It is a good catch up for anyone who needs a bit of remedial work done on it, but it’s also very much geared towards the 3rd-5th grade level it is recommended for. I think you could also use it for second grade. I would have been comfortable with it at that level.

The program is easy to teach to a group, and since it covers a broader grade level, I could see you using it for more than one student in your home which makes it that much more beneficial. It’s a very solid grammar program.

My one exception...price. The price of the combo set (the teacher book and two student books) is $82.99. The student books are consumable, and I know that since this isn't a complete grammar program, rather more driven towards expanding vocabulary comprehension (and boy does it ever!), that cost may be too high for some families. What I can recommend in regards to that, is once you own the teacher edition, any other student activity books you need for future students will only cost $16.99. So though the initial cost is there, if you are going to use this with other children the future cost is low.

If I hadn't of reviewed this program, would I have purchased it? To be honest with you, the initial cost would have been just too great for our meager homeschool budget. I do not have the $82.99 for just one aspect of grammar education, no matter how awesome it is...and this is an excellent program.


BUT--if you are definitely interested in Dynamic Literacy, I can help you out! I can get you 25% off the books at www.dynamichomeschool.com using the code farmfresh! You can use the same code at www.wordbuildonline.com for 10% off!  Don't you love discount codes?

Want to Know More?

My family reviewed WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 ($82.99) and think it's a great program! There were two other products reviewed by our Schoolhouse Review Crew including an online program. I hope you will visit and see what the other families thought of their products!
Dynamic Literacy Review
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I am so happy that this program proved to be just what I was hoping for, and I am definitely going to be adding it to our lineup for this fall when we return to our full curriculum.
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