May 30, 2014

Random 5 on Friday ~ May 30th

The Pebble Pond
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1. Did I ever mention how much I love the transition from Spring to Summer? I love the cool 60 degree mornings, and then the delightfully warm 80 degree afternoons. I love doing my Bible Study on the front porch before the boys get up smelling the incredible rich fragrance of honeysuckle and hearing the sweet cacophony of birdsong. It makes me so thankful to be in rural America.

2. This year our summer is going to look differently. We typically take the summer months off (June/July) from homeschooling,but this year because of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I have to keep doing a bit of school throughout the summer. I can tell you right now that I'm not sure how this is going to work. We are starting to hit a brick wall. He's so over school. Done with it. I fight with him almost daily to stay on task. We have a guaranteed week off the first week of August for summer camp...but that's a long ways away...Right now we have about 4 curriculum that are pretty work intensive and unfortunately all due within a week or two of each other which means we have to do them all at the same time. I promised him that once we get through these I will try to keep it easy....but he might need a meeting with the "principal" if you know what I mean.

3. I am going to enjoy trying out a new recipe today for Pink Lemonade Cupcakes. It is in my new Taste of Home magazine. It looks so refreshing and absolutely delicious with some pink lemonade concentrate for flavor, some strawberry jam, and a cream cheese frosting. Yum-O!

4. Grilling. We LOVE to grill. I am the grill master in my just sort of ended up that way because Love-Of-My-Life works all the way up to dinner time. But I enjoy grilling. I think I've gotten quite the knack for it. Tonight we have FIFTEEN of us for dinner, so it's going to be a combined effort. We are grilling chicken (lime marinade), with foil wrapped corn on the cob with a fresh cilantro/lime butter, baked potatoes, my twisted baquette loaves and fresh tossed salad. Delicious. Did I mention strawberries and ice cream?

5. We have an adventure planned for Sunday. We are going en masse (as in about 12-14 of us--my inlaws and my parents who are visiting) to visit Carter Caves. They are about 45 minutes away and lots of fun. You can go into the caves and take tours. There is also a place for children to "mine" gems in a mining creek. There is also a park with a public pool. Since it is supposed to be in the 90's this is going to be very delightful for the morning and to cool off. We plan on taking a picnic with us.

Have a fabulous weekend and finale to this marvelous month of May!

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May 28, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Frontporch #141~ May 28th

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What is your favorite berry?
Strawberries. LOOOOOVVVVE them. Which is why I don't mind that I have 12 quarts in my fridge to put up today...and that I already have made 4 containers of strawberry freezer jam and that I've already put up 2 gallon bags of whole berries in my freezer. I LOVE these luscious berries!

If you had the choice of a picnic or a sit down dinner, which would you choose?
Picnic! I love being outside and eating outside. It's just so casual and fun.

How is your handwriting? Fancy, plain, legible, doctor-like?
Rather plain and legible. Unless I get sleepy during church and am taking notes. Then it's like "What?"

Do you prefer a desk top computer, laptop, or tablet?
Laptop! We haven't used our desk top in almost a husband and I both have laptops and I now have my Kindle Fire HDX (on sale now for just $229!) which I love.

Tell me something interesting, please.
Well, tomorrow my parents who live in Washington state will be arriving to spend a week with us. We are going to Carter Caves, KY before they arrive though to explore a cave or two with my visiting Sister-in-law and her husband. We are having a "Sabbath at the Park" for church this week...all meeting in at a park pavilion for services and then a potluck/BBQ. It will be lovely!

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May 26, 2014

Folktales, Tall Tales, and Fables {Oh My!}

It's the last Monday of the month, and that means it's time for another Poppins Book Nook theme post! Last month we had the super fun theme of "Planes Trains and Automobiles" and explored the world of transportation! Did you get to see my Stoplight Craft? We sure did a lot of very fun books. This month's theme is Folktales! I have always loved folktales and it was fun picking the books I wanted to share with my boys in this subject. I chose some that were traditional folktales, some that were tall tales and some classified as fables. All of them were very enjoyable and we had fun learning about oral story telling. We did a few activities too, which helped us understand more about our theme. So let's get started!

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Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!


We enjoyed a fun old book Tall Tales From the High Hills by Ellis Credle. We enjoyed the different short tales in this book because they all had a setting of an area similar to the Appalachian Mountain region which is very close to us. We could easily imagine these stories happening which makes them even more relevant and enjoyable. The book then comprises oral stories he told them about the area, events and people--and in true folktale fashion (for they were more folktales than tall tales), they are a bit too crazy to be true--even though the story teller SWEARS they are. It was fun to read these stories because they were set in an area very similar to our small town.

I enjoyed reading Two Greedy Bears to my two boys. We laughed at their silliness and the slyness of the fox. My boys also sheepishly admitted that they saw themselves in the story. Baby Britches enjoys retelling the story which is super cute.

The favorite folktale though...that was The Bremen Town Musicians. Oh how the boys hooted and howled at the antics of the animals. They had me read this story again and again. I did change a certain animal's name to donkey to make it easier for me to read. LOL!

We did a coloring page for it when we were done. I think we will be coming back to this book at another time because it was just so much fun.

Seeking some additional folktales? Here are some I recommend!

Tall Tales

Learning about Tall Tales was very fun. the boys first came in contact with a tall tale through a song. One of their favorite songs on their Wee Sing Kids' Songs CD is "John Henry".

"When John Henry was a little baby
Sittin' on his daddy's knee
He picked up a hammer and a little piece of steel
Said "this Hammer's gonna be the death of me, Lawd lawd. 
This hammer's gonna be the death of me."

I thought this would be a great introduction to tall tales since they already know the basic story from the song.
John Henry: An America Legend by Ezra Jack Keats
This book is an old but really great picture book about the story of John Henry. The illustrations have a great rustic feel and the story has a certain rhythm about it. We especially liked the extensive use of otomotopea when the story is talking about John Henry's race with the steam drill:

"Whoop! Clang! Whoop! Bang! John Henry's hammer whistled as he swung it. Chug, chug! Clatter! rattled the machine..." [pg. 18]

We read the story of John Henry from this great collection of tall tales. This story was written more like "fact" so we enjoyed finding the exaggerations in it. We also compared this version of the story to the other one.

Finally, we went through the lyrics of the song John Henry to see pieces of the story that we read. We had fun singing it together.

As part of our Tall Tales exploration we filled out a worksheet that examines the characteristics of tall tales. This helped us remember what makes a tall tale fit the genre.

I found some other great books of tall tales that I plan on reading at a later time: has a section with unit studies on some Tall Tales you might want to check out!


We didn't really get to the fables, but here are some great picks for teaching fables:

And if you like lapbooks, has a lapbook for Aesop's fables!

We REALLY enjoyed this month's theme. I especially enjoyed sharing these fun stories with the boys. They are an important part of literature and now that I've found them I'm going to make sure I incorporate them more often in our studies. I also plan on letting them watch  (on the old animated Disney tall tales. I watched them when I was little and enjoyed them immensely. I know they will too!

Poppins Book Nook Giveaway!

Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook or product that ties in with our theme for the month. This month one lucky entrant will win a copy of the E.H.M. curriculum Journey into the World of Folktales (PDF) and one copy of the book that is required to teach it called Around the World in 80 Tales by Saviour Pirotta to further their learning all about folktales.

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 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 Rafflecopter terms and conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom's disclosures found here {}.  Just enter the Rafflecopterbelow to win:

Are you ready to see what kind of tales were explored by my fellow co-hosts?
Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God's Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual MayhemPreschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies Kathy's Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy's Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ The Kennedy Adventures ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ Our Simple Kinda Life ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Simplicity Breeds Happiness ~ Raventhreads ~ Water on the Floor ~ Learning Fundamentals ~ Tots and Me As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ Mom's Heart ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ Suncoast Momma ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A "Peace" of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

Do YOU have a post about folktales that you'd like to share with us? Add your OWN link so we can check it out!

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May 23, 2014

Random 5 on Friday~ May 23rd

The Pebble Pond

1. Today I am on an "almost summer" field trip with my boys. My parents are visiting from Washington State and while they are in the Cincinnati leg of their trip (visiting my brother--then they go to SC to see my aunt--then back to our house next Thursday for a week) they wanted us to come up and spend the day with them. At King's Island. Not familiar with King's Island? Here is a clue:
Yeah, a HUGE amusement part with psychotic roller coasters. It's hugely popular here and though I've lived in the area--and even just 20 minutes away at one point--I have never been there.

2. I am (used to be) a roller coaster junkie. I have adored them since I was tall enough to ride my first big one. Ironically it was my mom's dad--my grandfather who fed my love of them. How funny it must have been to see a white blond little freckle faced kid with her gray haired grandfather taking such glee out of sitting in the FRONT SEAT of a monster coaster. But oh what memories. But now. Now I feel old. I look at them and just think "I am going to be sick". Bwahahaha. I haven't ridden a big one since Six Flags San Antonio, TX in 2003. That's 11 body is 11 years older. And my mind 11 years wiser! Bwahahah!

3. My husband is NOT into roller coasters...he is horribly afraid of heights. So he just waves to me, holds my purse and eats a funnel cake. I think Little Britches (age 8) is more like his daddy. He gets very nervous about trying new I will be curious to see how he does tomorrow. Will he ride? Will he pass? Now Baby Britches. He is my daredevil. I have a feeling he will be the one crying about NOT getting to ride. LOL!

4. Cotton Candy and Snow Cones. If there is something I love to get at a fair or amusement park, it's those two things. To me they just embody all that is good memories...And yes. If I can find some, I am SO getting some tomorrow. AFTER I am done riding roller coasters.

5. After a day at the amusement park, my parents are going to take the boys and I to dinner. If I get to choose, I will choose Red Robin. I LOVE that place! There is just one restaurant nearby...and yet it was a fixture in the NW where I grew up. All my "special" dinners were there. My 21st birthday was there. I just love that place. And I always order the same thing: Freckled Lemonade and a Bonzai Burger. That's the one with a big juicy grilled pineapple ring. Mmmm. Love it!

Have a delightful weekend!

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May 21, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #140~ May 21st

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Is there one person who can drive you nuts, even if they aren't doing anything in particular?
Yes. More than one. And they are all related to me. Bwahahahahahahahhaha!

When you were a small child, how did you answer the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Teacher, figure skater, singer...
I "grew up" to be a homeschool mom who loves to ice skate and leads Women's Choir at church. I think I got mighty close! LOL!

Do you drink more sodas, iced tea, or water?
Hmm. I think iced tea. I NEED to drink more water. I read an article that says you should take your weight and divide it in half. That's how many OUNCES of water your body needs in a day. So that means I need to drink about 2 1/2 quarts of water each day. (and you KNOW you are now going to calculate how much I weigh with that formula aren't you?! LOL!) So I decided to find a quart jar and try to fill it up at least twice a day. And since I'm all about needing a cool gadget to help me want to do something I don't like....
I found us mason jar lids with straws! As you know hot pink is my favorite color, so I snagged that one for me...the green is for Little Britches and the red for Baby Britches. Now everyone WANTS to drink from their cool jars! And great for lunch outside!

My favorite flavor of iced cream is________________.
Um. Anything fruity. I love fruit ice cream like peach or strawberry. ESPECIALLY if it has the chunks in it. I also like the fruity cheesecake ones. But there are also days when nothing satisfies like good old BubbleGum flavor!

Do you like to dance?
Yep. I do it impromptu around the house all the time. I always wanted to take dance lessons to learn fancy dances. Or swing. But then remembered my husband and I are farm folk and don't get out much. We get to dance together maybe once or twice a year. Well, besides around the house of course.

Have a lovely conclusion to your week!! It's beautiful weather here! I am putting together photos of our garden to show you what we are doing this year...
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May 19, 2014

Kraken A.M.S. Case for Kindle Fire HDX from Trident Case (a product review)

As many of you know, I was blessed to be able to buy a Kindle Fire HDX earlier this year. I purchased a normal leather book style cover for it and I've been very happy with it, but when I was given the chance to try and review a new Kraken A.M.S. Case for Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 by Trident Case, I jumped on the opportunity.
kracken trident case for kindle review

Who is Trident Case?

Trident Case Review
Trident Case is a company dedicated to providing the toughest cases available for the mobile device market. They provide cases for tablets and smartphones which meet military standard for vibrations, dust, sand, rain, and drop. The plastic that Trident Case uses for their products is also bio-enhanced making it degradable, compostable and recyclable--totally eco-friendly! Trident Case also prides itself on offering up to 81 color combinations to truly let you build your own case and is compatible for a broad range of devices including many of the top brands in smartphones and tablets!

I was given the Kraken A.M.S. Case for Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 for my review. The case for these tablets consists of shock-absorbing silicone inner layer, covered by a hardened polycarbonate outer-casing, with a built-in screen protector to provide maximum protection. It is available in 7 different colors ranging from black to lime green and retails for $59.95. The Kracken case features enhanced audio using sound funnel technology and is shoulder strap compatible. The covers are for all ages, but there are some covers that will appeal more to each age group with their design and colors.

I chose the pink case for my Kindle Fire HDX 7. 

How Did I Use the Product?

As soon as my product came, I decided to try it out. I opened the package and discovered that there were no directions with the case in the package and no directions on the package itself. The case came needing to be opened; however, without directions I admit that it took me a little while to figure it out. The seal of the case pieces is very tight and I ended up using a knife to pop it open for me. 

Once it was opened, I found some directions inside the case. These directions were very simplistic and just showed photos on how to put the device into the inner foam case and then just snap it into the outer case.

It was not so easy. 

I had no trouble getting it in the black silicone foam case, and only a moment to fit it into the back part of the case, but it took nearly 20 minutes before I was able to get the plastic case itself completely closed around my Kindle.

The first attempt left me with two snaps that wouldn't close on the side by where my camera lens is. I took it back apart and discovered some places where some foam didn't lie straight in the hard case back. I fixed this and tried again. This time MORE snaps went into place, but I still had two (on either side of the camera lens) that would not latch. I grunted and groaned and white knuckled it trying to get them in. 

I ended up having to get a pair of pliers to grip it so I could shut it with a squeeze. My Kindle is now in...but I highly doubt it's coming OUT anytime soon. LOL! The hard case comes with a protective front cover piece made of plastic that fits over my screen. Once the Kindle is in the case, the Kindle can be used normally. 

I have done just about everything (except for dropping it) to test out it's capabilities. There is no trouble with plugging in either headphones or the charger with the case. I like that both are covered portals, but open easily. The buttons for the on/off and volume are even easier to find now, as they both stick up. I've had no troubles with any of my buttons.

I use my Kindle Fire HDX for music and audio books more than anything else, so I was very interested in testing out the enhanced audio feature. It works very well. In my other case, I could turn up the volume full and hear it throughout my kitchen/dining room, but it got very muted/muffled when I went beyond that point. 
My Old Case. Basic Leather Book Style
With the new case I can hear it much more clear from a greater distance. I've also discovered that you can increase the sound by flipping it speaker side up (making it face down). I took my Kindle Fire outside to the garden and even though I was completely outside, I could still hear my music from 30 feet away while working in my garden.

Trident Case Review
Baby Britches doing a Letter Trace App
I watched videos, used the internet, read books and let the boys play games with it. Everything worked just as it should without any problems. I've had just a slight issue with the touch screen on games like Doctor Who, or Frozen when you are making something change places. You have to touch it a little harder, but other than that it's fine.

What Are My Thoughts On The Product?

*Screen Protection
*Enhanced Sound
*Excellent Color Choices
*Camera Compatible for Kindle Fire HDX
*Shock Absorbent
*Makes it easier to use the power and volume buttons
*Thicker and easier to hold
*No cover case to keep in place
*Tight fit for device for extra protection

*Hard to get device into case w/limited directions
*Once you get it in, you basically won't want to fight to get it out
*Protective cover gets smudged very easily and I constantly have to wipe it off
*Dust gets under the cover and onto the screen
*Didn't come with a stand to prop it up
*Will Not Work on Regular Kindles--only the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and HDX 8.9

In summary, I love that the Kracken comes in so many colors and I was able to get my favorite color hot pink--it matches my phone now! My other case is just a plain Navy--my husband requested I get a "normal" color. Ha. Pink IS a normal color! :0)
I really like that it's very durable and with the lens cover I don't need to worry as much about little fingers on the glass or getting it scratched. The boys enjoy the way it feels in their hands a lot more now and say it feels more sturdy. 

Durability. While I didn't want to drop my Kindle on purpose to test it out, I feel that this case would definitely provide protection. It is a very hard plastic and with the Kindle nestled inside of a foam case within the plastic case, I would imagine it is a great shock absorber. I feel much better about allowing the boys to use the Kindle when it is in this case and know I won't freak out (as much!) if they would accidentally drop it.

Audio. The enhanced audio was a big draw for me and I am so happy that it truly does work. I love being able to hear my music and books more clearly, even when I'm outside.

I wish that my case had come with the stand and holder and it not be a separate accessory as I like standing my device up on my counter. The Kracken case doesn't stand up, or even prop up well. It's too slippery I guess. I will probably buy the stand for my cover, because I really do want one. The stand and holder is $19.95. It would be nice if the company offered a discount when you purchased a case and the stand.

I don't really like the protective screen cover, because it does seem to get a lot of dust underneath it and the smudges drive me nuts. But it's not enough of a bother for me not to use it or want to wrestle it open to take it out! LOL! 
You can see the dust...and some of it is under the plastic cover
Now that my review is over, I think I'm going to leave my Kindle Fire HDX in the case. I like that it's very bright colored making it possible to find it easily and the boys seem to be handling it much better without having the extra cover piece that folds over on my other case. 

Would I Recommend the Product?

Yes! Even though it took me awhile to get my Kindle inside, it is so sturdy and durable, that I feel like the Kracken AMS Case for Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 by Trident Case is the tablet version of my husband's "indestructible" case he has for his smartphone. If he hadn't already purchased what he's currently using, I would have suggested he get a phone case from Trident Case

If you are wanting a case that will stand up to what life throws at your device...if you have children who will be regularly handling your device...if you plan on taking it outside...if you love listening to music or audiobooks--please consider purchasing a case for your device from Trident Case

Want to learn more about Trident Case?

You can find Trident Case on these social media sites to learn more and stay up to date on their new products and any specials they might have.

Are you interested in seeing if your device will work? Perhaps you are curious as to how it worked on a smartphone or iPad--make sure you head on over and see what my fellow crew mates thought of their cases!
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Have an excellent week! I will have another review for you, so make sure you check back in for an update--or sign up for receiving my blogs in your emails!
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May 16, 2014

Random 5 on Friday~ May 16th

The Pebble Pond
Add your Random 5 to the linkup! 
1. I made one of my favorite dinners: Oven BBQ Chicken using my mom's recipe with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. I didn't have a special drink (ie. sparkling cider or other sparkling 100% juice) so I created some using organic lemonade, sprite and fresh raspberries. The boys were delighted and I loved it too. I used one of my new tablecloths this evening too. I love our Friday night (Sabbath) dinners. It's the nicest dinner we eat all night.

2. I made Black Bottom cupcakes for our Women's Club at church tomorrow. It's basically dark chocolate with a cream cheese/chocolate chip center. DELICIOUS! I made a new rich chocolate frosting (the satin shiny kind) and that is just perfect for these cupcakes. 

3. I got tired of a pile of plates from breakfast on Saturday mornings after I work so hard to make sure everything is clean in my kitchen for Sabbath, so I bought nice paper plates to use. I figured since I would be the one cleaning up, I'm going easy. It's going to be a new tradition. 

4. I love stormy weather. As long as I can just stay home and be cozy, I love storms. I like to sit on my covered front porch under a blanket and just listen to it rain and storm. That brings me great happiness and contentment.

5. We have new homeschooling products to review over the next few months: History from Veritas Press, English/Science from Moving Beyond the Page, Writing with WriteShop and we are continuing our review of We Choose Virtues. Next week I will be sharing my review of my Trident Kracken Case for my Kindle Fire HDX (Monday). We are almost done with our My Father's World Adventures in US History. Just a few more weeks...3 I think. We've been enjoying slowing down on it as we worked in things we were reviewing. But I'd like it done. We are just a few activities away from completion...once it's done we will only be using review material during the summer, giving us some delightful partial days!

Well, I hope you all have a delightful weekend! I am going to enjoy being with my boys and hopefully it will stop raining enough on Sunday to get round 2 of my beans and lettuce planted! Right now it's just a big mud pit if you step in the garden Though the lettuce is loving this weather...

We were blessed with fresh strawberries and lettuce from a man down the road who has a rainsed hot bed. He's ALREADY enjoying fresh goodies! I'm so jealous...
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May 15, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #139

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Do you ever watch You Tube?
It depends. I typically use You Tube for educational purposes to find old SchoolhouseRock shows or old cartoons like the Tall Tales by Disney. I do watch movie trailers a lot. But I don't just surf it. I am always there for a purpose.

How are your picture taking (photography) skills?
Needs work. LOL! I have just a point and shoot camera. I do better than I used to do with staging and stuff and sometimes I luck out with an amazing photo. But I am NOT skilled like so many of my friends are. I love to admire their work.

What's your "go to" meal to prepare when you're in a hurry?
Tacos. We love them and they don't take much time at all. You can find my DIY Taco Seasoning Recipe and Homemade Tortillas recipe on my blog. They are big hits at our house.

Do you like shoe shopping?
I guess. I'm not a huge shoe obsessor. I pretty much buy what I need.

If you could be royalty for a day, would you try it?
Sure! I imagine I could handle it for one day. Especially if there was a tiara involved! :0)

I hope you all have a great rest of the week! It's stormy here, but we don't have much more than rain.
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May 9, 2014

Logic of English~Essentials (a curriculum review)

English is one of the subjects that I am very comfortable teaching. We have been using a very good curriculum this year...except for spelling. We hit a point where we just didn't think our spelling was working very well for us. When we also were nearly completed with our Language Arts book, it was time to seek out something new--hopefully something with a strong spelling course that would help us out. I was very excited to be able to review Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set--a complete English curriculum, including a strong spelling course. Perhaps this would be just what we needed.
Logic of English Curriculum Review

What Is Logic of English?

Logic of English was designed to fight illiteracy. One of the ways they decided to do this was to design curriculum to address the biggest problem in learning English...the reasons why words are spelled and read the way they are. They made it their goal to present a common-sense approach to reading and spelling and to incorporate multi-sensory learning activities to recognize that every person learns differently. With the intensive phonetic instruction presented systematically, they've endeavored to take the confusion out of learning English--whether learning as a child, an adult, or an ESL student. By teaching the 74 basic phonograms and 30 spelling rules...together these explain 98% of English words.

Logic of English consists of three curriculum:

*Fundamentals: Complete Language Arts Curriculum for ages 4-7
*Essentials: Spelling, Reading and Grammar for ages 7+
*Handwriting: Cursive and Manuscript Handwriting Instruction

I am reviewing Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set which sells for $243. The following items were included in the set:

*Essentials Teacher's Manual
*Essentials Student Workbook (consumable)
*Spelling Journal (consumable)
*Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
*Spelling Rule Flash Cards
*Grammar Rule Flash Cards
*Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
*Game Book
*Manuscript (or Cursive) Game Cards
*2nd Set of Manuscript (or Cursive) Game Cards Boldface
*Quick Reference Chart

I was able to choose either the manuscript or cursive version of the workbook and game cards. I chose manuscript for our review.

How Did We Use Logic of English?

As soon as I received the materials, I took an afternoon to acquaint myself with the teacher's manual. I read all the pre-lesson information, so that I could have the best understanding on how the program was supposed to work. This was probably the single best thing I did before starting the program. I really learned a lot behind how it was designed and how I could determine the best way to go about teaching it. 
Giddy when I opened this box!
This baby is about 1 1/2" thick!
Chart laying out the scope and sequence for the program

Symbol explanation and materials needed

Loved this section! It had different schedule scenarios based on your student...
Some pages from the "Teaching the Lessons" portion
Explanation of how each lesson is laid out 
I loved this suggestion for "say to spell". Holding up the fingers to match the number of letters making the sound! Brilliant!
Better explanation of the multi-sensory symbol guide
Some of the things that are part of the "Teacher Resources" section
Charts all the phonograms to be taught, their sounds, and sample words
Lays out all the spelling rules
All the spelling lists in the curriculum...
 The next thing I did was buy a box to hold all the cards that were included. You will need something to hold the cards, because there are a lot of them! A photo box is the ideal size and I found a super cute one for just $3. I pulled out some rubberbands and clips and got everything organized.
If it's a phonogram card, grammar flash card or spelling rule for the current lesson it gets separated with the black clip

Getting Started:
The teacher's manual suggested a couple different schedules to use, based on your child's skill level. I decided to try the schedule for the "Struggling Speller Reading at Grade Level" which suggests completing one lesson every one to two days. (see the photo earlier in this post) I used the scripted lesson just as it suggested. It was very easy to follow as all the teacher "talk" is in bold. If there is an exercise from the workbook to be done, there is a little pencil icon noting which exercise is to be complete. Every lesson also contains colored boxes with additional activities, as well as challenges that you can have your student complete. Not all the workbook exercises are part of the main lesson, so you can see if there are any you want your student to complete from the extras. 

Rather than explain in detail everything we did in lesson one or any other lesson, I'm going to explain the parts of each lesson and what is in them, as this has been consistent for every lesson in the book up to the lesson we completed this week (Lesson 12). This will give you the broadest look at what you could expect from this curriculum.

Every teaching lesson is separated into three parts. 
Part One focuses on phonograms, exploring sounds and spelling rules.

Phonograms is the first portion of each lesson. Here the student will learn a particular phonogram or set of phonograms. If it is a set, they typically all share a sound, are all very common easy phonogram pairs, or share the same rules. (ie. ay, ai are taught at the same time as oi, oy because each pair shares the same rules; or oa and oe are taught together because they share a sound). Teaching them follows the same routine each time--review the sounds each phonogram makes. See if there is anything similar between them. Then meet some words using them and learn any rules that might be used for them.

I like that the next part of phonograms is review. We always bring in phonograms that have already been learned so that they are regularly heard and used. Phonogram practice consists of the teacher saying the SOUNDS each phonogram makes (all of them!) and the student writes down the phonogram that matches those sounds in their workbook. There are usually 20 phonograms in the review.

Once this review is done, there is typically a game played from The Phonogram and Spelling Game Book. We enjoy this portion, because we just love playing games.

Logic of English incorporates "Exploring Sounds" where you learn about how things are spoken or used to make up words. I like this section as it addresses how things are pronounced. Lesson one kicked off by having us test consonants and vowels on our tongue and lips to feel the difference.

This part of the lesson is where you really dive into the phonetics...which phonograms say the same thing, how do you know when to use which one, finding irregular useage, etc. I find myself doing a lot of whiteboard work in this section.

Learning sounds of long /a/

learning the broad sound of /a/
I really love that in this portion of the lesson they point out if there are a limited number of words that use a particular phonogram sound. For instance in the picture above for learning long /a/, they are taught that there are only eight words where /ea/ says a long /a/ sound. The students are encouraged to write the rare spellings in their Spelling Journal, though it's not part of the lesson assignments. We do it. This is very useful for Little Britches and he has a great memory for this kind of thing. If he can't remember, all he has to do is pull out the journal and look at the lists.

Some examples of rare spellings of long o
By the time this section on exploring sounds is done, the student has a good grasp on which spellings are the most common or rare and when they get used. 

Part Two of each lesson contains spelling dictation and analysis.

There is a spelling list right after the phonics work. I like that they call it a list rather than a test. It is very clear on how to administer it and with just 15 words--some easy, some teaching specific phonograms covered in the lesson--it is quickly completed.

One thing I really appreciate is that before every spelling list (if needed), there is a "tips" portion which reminds the teacher that certain words are spelled different than they sound so to make sure and say them to match the way they are spelled. Words like enjoy, secret, human, draws your attention to them and explains the best way to pronounce them for student spelling success. 

Once the spelling list is done, the teacher then guides the student to analyze each word and mark them as directed on the Spelling List in the teacher manual under "markings". This is when they can correct any mistakes they made and marking the phonograms helps them to remember later. It also where spelling rules are listed (if they work for a word) so you can refresh their memory.
The instructions even include having them mark with tiny numbers corresponding to the sound the phonogram made when it wasn't the dominant sound. For instance when we learned the word bread...we marked the /ea/ by underlining it, but then put a small 2 over it to remind us that /ea/ is making it's second sound. This is very useful to remember that some phonograms have more than one sound.

Part Three of each lesson focuses on things relating to writing: grammar, dictation, composition, and vocabulary.

The grammar portion contains what you would consider grammar--sentence structure, learning about the parts of speech, etc. There are grammar rule cards that are used whenever something new is introduced. These are very very helpful to be able to reference throughout the week. 
These little holders work perfectly for the cards. I like to keep up all the spelling and grammar rules for the lesson for quick access during the week.
One of the first things that is done as part of grammar is to learn about the parts of speech--nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. Once the introduction is made and the grammar card is introduced, the student turns back to their spelling list and in the column "parts of speech" they note as directed any nouns, verbs, adj, et they see. Every part of speech taught gets a different color, so nouns are always red, verbs always green, etc when marking. 

The grammar section just continues with oral question/answer and discussion to teach the science of grammar and includes some exercises in the workbook. We had already covered a lot of the parts of speech in the curriculum we used prior to this review, but the review was definitely worthwhile.

Logic of English encourages identifying parts of speech in phrases and sentences, so the teacher will work through some in each section with the student. They will learn to note over each word what part of speech it is. This leads to increased writing fluency later. 

I can assure you that it is very detailed and thorough. We just completed lesson 12 and for the first time in my life I know what a transitive verb and direct object are--and what their purpose is in a sentence. I may have learned this at some point in the past, but if I did, I have no recollection of it! I really am enjoying the detailed grammar studies in this course.

Dictation is the next section. Every lesson contains phrases/sentences for dictation (about 6 of them). These phrases contain words from the spelling lists. There is also something related to what was covered in the grammar--maybe comma usage, or subject-verb agreement, or plurals. Once these are done, the teacher is encouraged to write them on the board so that the student can check (and correct) their work and you can review with them any rules they might have forgotten.

The last two sections of part three in the lesson are vocabulary development and composition. Not every lesson has both of these, but many do. Vocabulary development focuses on things like prefixes, suffixes, compound words, etc. Taking the words they learned in their spelling list and morphing them into something else. For instance, our lesson this week (lesson 12) worked with the suffix -er. We took our verbs from the spelling list and learned how adding -er changed them. 

The final section of the lesson (besides any extras that might be included for additional practice) is composition. Composition always has the student using their spelling words to make phrases or sentences following any grammar rules that have been covered. For instance in lesson 8, the composition asked that the student write short phrases using "a and an + adjective + noun using the sample words provided in the the workbook". This takes the principles they learned and lets them put them to work in short sentence form.  Again, this is building a great foundation for writing fluency.

Throughout the lesson you will find boxes with optional additional work...I like to check out what they are and sometimes I will include them--especially if it's just more practice on something I know Little Britches needs to spend more time on. 
You can see here that I highlighted one of the activities in the optional box at the top. I knew he'd enjoy it playing charades, so we did it.
After we attempted to use the suggested schedule of 1 lesson every one to two days (as part of the schedule for a struggling speller), we discovered it was just too much. We weren't used to spending that much time on English and it got overwhelming. This is especially true once we got past the stuff we already knew. Now I break the lesson down over 4 days so it looks something like this:

Day 1: Part 1 and Part 2 (spelling list)
Day 2: Review spelling list; Part 3 Grammar
Day 3: Part 3 Vocabulary and Dictation
Day 4: Part 3 Composition and Challenge (if they have it)

By breaking it up like this, we have really pared it down to what Little Britches can handle. Doing it this way fills up 30-60 minutes a day depending on how much is in each section. This is much more manageable then the 60-90 minutes every day we were doing before.

But wait...what about assessments?
As I mentioned at the top, this program includes an assessment chapter every 5th lesson.
I love the way that the program does the assessment and review. It is very non-test. It includes the student in the process of determining what THEY think they need to work on. Before the first assessment in Lesson 5, it recommends you remind your student of these things:

I love it. These really opened up discussion on why learning how to spell properly is important to Little Britches future...he had a LOT to say on that third question. LOL!

Each of the assessments consist of a spelling assessment and then a spelling word review.  

I really like the next part of the assessment where the student can see all the words they've covered in their spelling lists and THEY can mark the ones they think they need more help with. There is a matching list in the teacher manual where the teacher can note their own observations too.
In the spelling word review, the student is asked to write down the words they want more practice on or that they regularly miss onto 3x5 cards...underlining the part of the word they tend to miss. Now with these cards, the student can choose from a variety of practice activities to work on these words. Little Britches favorite is "Blind Spelling."
In Blind Spelling I read the 3 x 5 cards to him one at a time and he closes his eyes and writes the word on the whiteboard. Then he checks to see if it matches the card. A similar version of this is to take the stack of cards and look at each card, then flip it over and write the word down on a piece of paper. If you get it right, you put it in a different stack. If you get it wrong, it stays in your words to practice pile. He likes to hand me the ones he "knows really good now."

At the end of the assessment lesson, the next pages consist of games and activities you can do to review any of the spelling or grammar rules that have been taught. These are great for pinpointing areas needing improvement.

What Are Our Thoughts About Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set?

Little Britches thoughts:
"I don't like that there is a lot of stuff in one activity, but I do like the games that are in it. Those are fun. And how you can practice the words you miss with Blind Spelling. And that there are only 15 words to know each lesson and that some of them are really easy each time. The rules do help me remember how to spell things...but I can't always remember them and that makes me frustrated."

My thoughts:
*All inclusive systematic complete English program
*Spelling Rules/Grammar Rules on Flashcards for quick reference
*Games to practice what is learned throughout the book and in every lesson
*Open-and-go material
*Would work for more than one grade level
*Notations on ways to include multi-sensory learning for your student
*Lots of extras to add in if desired or to substitute exercises
*Easy for Teacher--clear instructions and scripted lessons 
*Assessments every 5th lesson
*Teaches the WHY'S of English/Spelling
*Can be paced according to your child
*Includes schedule ideas based on the level of your child
*Includes copywork, dictation and composition to assist with writing fluency
*Workbooks for cursive and manuscript available
*Spelling journal to record unusual phonogram usage for quick reference later
*Price--so much is included in the complete set for a great price

*Very systematic and "classic textbook" in the approach
*Teacher led, not much independent work
*Minimal writing or reading outside of basic exercises
*Price--it could be prohibitive to those on a tight budget, regardless how much you want it

In summary, I love that Logic of English is a complete systematic approach to understanding English. I love learning the rules for the spelling and rules for the grammar and I love having them for Little Britches to reference. I like the multi-sensory learning notations throughout the book, allowing me to find extra exercises that will connect with my sons auditory learning style. I love that the teachers manual has clear instructions and scripted lessons---though I sometimes deviate in order to make things more clear...but the lesson is basic enough to allow for that. I like that I can break the lesson down to fit the pace of my child--allowing us to move quickly through things we already know, in order to spend time on the things we need to learn.

The main things that I don't like is that there is minimal reading or writing included in the program. There are no pieces of literature or reading booklets included in this set to practice what is being learned. In my exploration of the Logic of English website, I did discover something called The Essentials Reader (digital) which corresponds with Essentials lessons. This is a reading book, but it is not included in the complete Essentials curriculum. I would really like to have something like that included in the set as the reading aspect is lacking. I feel the same way about the writing. There is a portion of each lesson spent for composition, but it is nothing more than just using words that the student has learned to make sentences. The writing skills are taught, but not really put into practice. There are notations in the teachers manual of places to encourage free writing, but it is part of the "extras" not part of the actual assignments. Essentials: Logic of English is light on writing; however, if you look at the description of the curriculum it does not say it's a complete Language Arts curriculum (like their Foundations curriculum), but rather a complete reading and spelling course. Writing would be the one thing I would add--as I can incorporate reading/literature on my own.

Why did I rave about the systematic approach to the program, yet put it in the cons? Because for a lot of homeschoolers, having a "textbook" or "classical" approach to English isn't going to be their style. This is very old school textbook in some ways, but the addition of the exercises for multi-sensory learning and the games scattered throughout the lessons break that up enough for me to really enjoy it. Because of this systematic approach it is very teacher led--there isn't much independent work beyond the exercises. Which is why having the games included and "extra" options is so important.

Price. I always like to include my thoughts on the price. For what you are getting with this complete curriculum, the price of $243 is outstanding. It really is an amazingly and thorough program for teaching the ins and outs---the science--of English. Once you buy the complete set, you will only need to purchase the spelling journal and workbook for future students. Everything else is non-consumable. But I also put price as a con because for some (many!) families paying over $200 for just one subject is not within their budget, regardless of how amazing it is--especially if they have multi-grade levels to buy for. If I had not had a chance to review this program, I don't know that I would ever have even considered it because of the cost...that is nearly half my annual homeschooling budget. I typically buy according to price when it comes to curriculum...especially if I don't know anything about it. 

I hope that by me sharing with you how awesome this program is, you will consider it even with the higher cost!

In regards to how it worked for our worked. It worked fabulously. This kind of a program is just what my son needed--even if he doesn't "love" it. He always asked me "why? Why?" with our other spelling program, because it never gave reasons for words being spelled the way they were. Now he has the rules and reasons and he knows that these will always work and he'll be able to use them from here on out. It was a lot more work--each lesson is really best spaced over the course of 4 days and we still spend 45-60 minutes a day on it. But the results I see are definitely worth it. Did I mention that I'VE learned a ton? I discovered that I never knew half of these rules--I just did them because they told to me. I didn't know about non-count plurals, transitive verbs, or direct objects--much less the actual rules like English words never ending in an A, I, U or V! I love that I am learning right along with Little Britches. We will definitely be continuing to use this program.

Would I Recommend Essentials: Logic of English?

This is a program ideal for those who like the classical teaching approach to English, and those who have children demanding the "why" behind spellings/grammar. It's also great if you have a child struggling with phonetics and their usage in English words. It's also great for those who want a scripted lesson plan for teaching English as well something that becomes multi-sensory and paced to match the child. If you are an "open and go" teacher--preferring to have it all laid out for you, this program will be perfect. If you feel you are weak in the area of English and need something to do the "hard work" for you, this is DEFINITELY the curriculum for you.

If however, you are looking for a literature based English program, one that spends little time in a workbook, or one with a lot of independent work, than Logic of English might not be for you. If you are looking for a program with a good writing focus (not just writing basics) this is not going to work for you.

For More Information about Logic of English...

If you want to learn more about the Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set, please visit the Logic of English website! You will be able to see the scope of the program in a video, see what a lesson looks like, check out the teacher's manual, view the student workbook and check out some sample pages!

You can find Logic of English on the full range of social media sites including:

I have shared our experience with the Logic of English Essentials program...there are 2 other programs (and some apps!) that were reviewed by our team! Why not head on over and check them out--especially if you have a child in the 4-9 age range!

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