New from Bridgeway Academy: Author in Your House & Coupon

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Are you considering which writing curriculum you’d like to use in your homeschool this year?  Well, if you are, consider Bridgeway Academy!  They have some fascinating new online classes taught by best-selling author Renae Green called Author in Your House which might be just what you’re looking for.

Bridgeway Academy provides excellent online classes taught by accredited, skilled teachers in all subjects.  My son Jackson has taken two online courses from Bridgeway Academy and we couldn’t have been happier with his weekly class time, his assignments and studies, and his overall experience both with his teacher and his classmates.  He has learned so much.

Author in Your House is a new course which is available for middle school students (grades 5-8) using the book Chasing Dreams, which details the life of 12-year-old Rebecca’s life in the early 20th century.  High school students can take Author in Your HouseWrite Your First Novel with Renae Green guiding them through the writing of their first novels.  Either way, students will receive a first-class education in writing from a skilled and gifted author.  Visit this link to view the Course Catalog which details the information on these and other classes for elementary, middle school, and high school students.


Plus, you can purchase these at a discounted price through July 20!

Families can get 15% off Bridgeway Live Online Classes (course materials and additional kits excluded) by using the code SUMMER2018 at checkout.

We have loved our Bridgeway Academy experiences.  If you’re looking for some amazing class opportunities for your students, please visit the Bridgeway Academy website and learn more!


Enjoy!  –Wren


“Getting Started With French” ~ A Review

Are you thinking of studying a foreign language in your homeschool?  If so, I have a wonderful resource for you–Armfield Academic PressGetting Started With French!  We received a copy of this book to review via the Homeschool Review Crew.


What is Getting Started With French?

Getting Started With French, authored by William E. Linney and Brandon Simpson, is a beginning language learning textbook especially written for homeschooled students.  In fact, its subtitle is “Beginning French for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age.”  It’s ideal for homeschoolers or those who are learning French for the very first time for many reasons.  It’s extremely affordable ($21.95 at Amazon); it is incredibly easy to use even if the user is unfamiliar with French; it’s divided into clear, simple lessons; and it has an audio component.

Getting Started With French is composed of a softcover book and accompanying free audio downloads from Getting Started With French.  The book contains lessons 1 through 172; an answer key in the back for the lessons’ exercises; a pronunciation guide; a glossary; and an index.  The audio downloads can be retrieved two ways; either by downloading zip files to your computer or by simply accessing each lesson’s pronunciation file via the website.

The lessons start very simply; with new French words and their correct pronunciation, and then each subsequent lesson builds on the ones before it.  The audio files use a native French speaker from Paris to pronounce each word or phrase for the student.  So first, the student reads the lesson in the book and learns a little about new vocabulary or pronunciation rules in French.  Then, he can listen to the audio file and practice his own pronunciation.  Last, he’ll (usually) do written work.

The authors also include fun Expressions Françaises (French expressions) here and there; familiar French phrases that even English speakers would know, along with the stories behind those phrases.  They are fun pieces of trivia especially created for French students.



getting-started-french-picture-1How I used it

My son is preparing to resume studies of another foreign language and was concerned about learning two very different languages at once.  So this time, I was the person who got to use the curriculum!  I’ve always enjoyed French (whether it’s the food, the fashions, the country’s beautiful architecture, or the language itself), but it has been years and years since I studied it in high school and college.  I really looked forward to picking it up again.

To begin, I selected a composition notebook to use for the written portion of each lesson.  I downloaded the audio zip files from the Downloads tab of Getting Started With French (there are both pronunciation files and author commentary for each lesson; this is like having a French teacher right in your own homeschool) to our PC.  However, because our PC sits in one area of our dining room I often work elsewhere with audio or video files using my Kindle Fire, just because I can be anywhere in the home (or away, if there’s wi-fi) to do it.  So I simply used the audio files straight from the website almost all of the time as I studied.  This worked perfectly.  I followed the lessons as they are presented in the book; first, I’d read the first few paragraphs, then I’d listen to and repeat aloud the audio vocabulary, then I’d write the exercises from the book in my composition notebook.

The lessons are very simple and easy, yet profound at the same time.  Who could have imagined that with only a softcover textbook and audio files, a French class focusing on grammar, pronunciation rules, vocabulary AND correct voicing of the French language could be achieved?  And yet that’s exactly what Getting Started With French has done.  The authors recommend that a student study one lesson per day, rather than clumping together many lessons at once.  There might be the temptation to do that just because the lessons are on the shorter side.  However, true learning will occur much more effectively and smoothly if students learn just a little at a time and learn it well.  Then, each following lesson will build on the ones before.


getting-started-french-picture-2My impressions

Personally, I found Getting Started With French incredibly enjoyable.  I loved using it!  It was truly wonderful to get back into French language study, and even though I have a busy day nearly every day of my life, I was able to fit in study times with no trouble.  (And because of the audio access via my Kindle, I could do it in any room of the house!)  I did remember a good portion of French vocabulary and grammar rules, but what I appreciated most was the fact that the audio files modeled for me the correct pronunciation.  Since my college years, I spent several years studying and speaking (well, attempting to speak) Russian and, as you can imagine, the pronunciation and even the placement inside the mouth of voicing different vowels, vowel combinations, or vowels with consonants was dramatically different.  And yes, every single student benefits from hearing words spoken by native speakers.  But in my case, I found that I had to retrain my palate (so to speak) from Russian pronunciation to French.  Thanks to the audio files, this was easily accomplished (although honestly, it’s still a work in progress as I haven’t completed the entire course yet!).

One thing that a person can find challenging when learning a foreign language is putting grammar together with vocabulary.  Why would a French speaker say or write  “l’orange” instead of “la orange,” for example?  What does the cédille do to the French pronunciation rule of a “C,” or “ç” in a word?  All these questions, and many more, are explained little by little to students.  I really appreciate the way the authors don’t separate grammar lessons from everything else (which I think makes language-learning very challenging), but place them in context by weaving them into lessons where the students are also working on pronunciation and building a vocabulary.

I would definitely recommend Getting Started With French for any student (child or adult) who’d like to begin to learn this beautiful language…and also for any homeschool parent!  Even if there is no French experience or ability whatsoever in the home, authors Linney and Simpson have created lessons which are incredibly easy for both the teacher and the student to apprehend, and just as important, to truly progress with.  Getting Started With French provides a fantastic foundation for further language study by its excellent pronunciation, conversation, translation, and vocabulary/grammar lessons.


getting-started-french-picture-1Other resources from Armfield Academic Press

Armfield Academic Press also has other fantastic introductory language learning books available; Getting Started With Spanish and Getting Started With Latin.  They’re also planning to publish Getting Started With Russian soon.  Although I’m really enjoying studying French again, I must admit that there are foundations that I missed when I studied Russian the first time.  I was actually living in Russia and studying Russian at a university there with a native Russian speaker; and she was fantastic.  However, because it was more of an immersion experience, I missed some basic yet crucial grammar and pronunciation information (like how exactly to form my mouth around “ы” or managing the dipthong “лю.”)  I feel completely confident, based on using Getting Started With French, that Mr. Linney will be more than capable of unlocking the secrets of the Russian language to me….at last!  (When Getting Started With Russian is published, that is!)


If you’re or your child are interested in studying French, do check out Armfield Academic PressGetting Started With French.  It is affordable, understandable, and so user-friendly.  I truly loved it, and am looking forward to more from Armfield Academic Press!

You can visit Armfield Academic Press‘ Facebook page at

Enjoy! –Wren

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}

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Fabulous U.S. Geography from Brookdale House ~ A TOS Review

I’ve recently found the most incredible U.S. geography curriculum, thanks to Brookdale House and the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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Brookdale House generously provided a printable/digital copy of their Drawing Around the World: USA geography course for us.  It has opened the door to a marvelous way of teaching geography to us that eliminates entirely the tired old “drill and kill” method of memorizing states and capitals…yet still firmly embeds the teaching in the student’s mind and memory.

About Brookdale House

Brookdale House is a curriculum company whose main focus is to provide materials so that students children can learn inductively in a simple, child-focused learning manner.  Their curricula topics include writing, history, foreign language, grammar, Bible, and geography.  Each of these products enables students to learn in an enjoyable, yet thorough, manner.  And students aren’t the only ones who’ll find these lessons pleasant; parents and teachers will as well.


Brookdale pic 1What is Drawing Around the World: USA?

Drawing Around the World: USA is honestly and sincerely the geography course I’ve been looking for all my homeschooling life!  The lessons, designed for grades 4-12, are engaging and enjoyable while still being highly effective.  They build on a pleasant repetition of information, so that each day the student has a lesson which engages different skills and different parts of the brain.  Students draw, write, look up state information, and create accurate maps of the parts of the U.S. they’re studying.  They begin with a blank map of the U.S., drawing in the first state taught.  Then, with each successive week, they draw more and more states and fill in more of the entire U.S. map.  By the end of the curriculum, they’ll be able to draw every state in the Union on the country’s map, and identify/place its capital!

Lessons are laid out clearly and simply for both teachers and students.  Each week, the same pattern is followed:

  • Day 1:  Learn about the new state(s).  Record basic information about it (them).  Draw the state and mark its capital on the map.  Draw as well the other states that have been learned.
  • Day 2:  Draw the new state, its capital, and all other states studied on a blank map.
  • Day 3:  Repeat the activities of Day 2.
  • Day 4:  Record the names of the states and capitals covered this week and in previous lessons.  Draw them all on a U.S. map.  Do all of these without looking back at other lessons.

How easy is that?  The student is learning gently, day by day, the states, capitals and their locations on a U.S. map.  The relaxed manner of learning still firmly deposits the information in the student’s memory…without tears, frustration or boredom.


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How we used this geography course:

The course is laid out for a 4-day week, which is perfect if you have coops or outside classes.  It also gives you a free day for review if you believe you need it (although I never sensed we did).  Normally we did the Drawing Around the World: USA lessons 3-4 days per week.  And, ours was a digital/printable resource, so the first thing I did was to  print the curriculum, punch holes in it and place it in a binder.

During the first week, I walked through every lesson with my son Jackson (who’s in 8th grade), and he did all the drawing and looking up.  After that, I just recorded which day we were doing on the lesson plan and he completed them himself, although I checked his work afterwards.  This geography curriculum also provides links to geography websites (or provides book lists of resources you can get from the library) so that students can look up information about each state.  Once we’d bookmarked the one we used, he could access it without my help.

In order to provide additional drawing assistance, I also gave him a clear transparency sheet so that he could trace the states’ shapes with a dry-erase marker, for additional practice.


Drawing-Around-the-World-USA-456x615_zpsxdnrguor[1]What we thought about Drawing Around the World: USA:

I LOVE this curriculum.  I always loved geography as a girl, but for some reason I’ve found it rather cumbersome and unenjoyable to teach.  Maybe that was the curriculum, though, because teaching geography with Drawing Around the World: USA has been an utter joy.  Because it’s not based on “memorize, memorize, memorize,” but instead uses gentle repetition of drawing the states again and again, the student really DOES learn!  And it really is a pleasure.  Yesterday, as a matter of fact, Jackson noticed that he’d neglected to list the states and their capitals on the previous week’s lesson.  And he said, “Oh, I forgot to do this,” and proceeded to jot all of them down before he began the current lesson.  He knew every one, and wrote them down down without irritation or much thought.  That tells me about the great methods used by Brookdale House AND how well he’s learning these states!

It has also been the perfect adjunct to our American history studies this year, which focus more on the events of the first few centuries of America than they do the geography of the country or states.

Here’s what my son Jackson had to say:  “It is a nice curriculum to improve knowledge of the 50 states, and drawing skills.  It is a good course for mixed age groups.”

It was also very easy for me as the teacher; it required no stringent organization or planning from me.  I just checked his work, made corrections as necessary, and assigned work for each day.  Bonanza!


 Brookdale House Review

In conclusion:

I highly, highly recommend Drawing Around the World: USA, which can purchased from Brookdale House.  (As a matter of fact, I’m planning to use Drawing Around the World: Europe when we finish the U.S. study!)  I can’t say enough about the gentle effectiveness and honest pleasure it is to use this for learning geography.  In addition, other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew received a variety of other Brookdale House curricula to review.  You can see those other reviews by clicking the banner below.

You can reach Brookdale House at their social media sites:

Enjoy! –Wren

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Super Teacher Worksheets ~ A TOS Review

Once in a while, a teaching tool comes along that is so helpful you don’t know how you’d done without it before!

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That’s what our latest review was, for us.  Super Teacher Worksheets generously provided us with a free year’s subscription for their Individual Membership.  What a fabulous resource!

STW Pic 1What is Super Teacher Worksheets?

Super Teacher Worksheets is just what it says; a website full to the brim with worksheets for teachers to use with students in primarily elementary grades (but Super Teacher Worksheets is adding more worksheets for students in grades 6-8).  And how many worksheets does the website contain?  More than 10,000….with new ones being added all the time!

Here’s a selection of the types of worksheets you can find on Super Teacher Worksheets.  These categories are all found in a sidebar along the left side of the page.  (There are also different worksheets that are featured on the main page.)

  • Math (from addition and subtraction all the way to algebra, geometry, and fractions)
  • Reading and Writing (comprehension, literature guides, book reports, etc.)
  • Phonics and Early Literacy
  • Handwriting (printing and cursive)
  • Grammar
  • Spelling Lists (grades 1-5)
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • and all kinds of other extras!

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There are some other excellent tools on Super Teacher Worksheets that are especially for teachers or homeschoolers.  First, with an Individual Membership, one receives (along with all the available worksheets on the site) a “filing cabinet.”  Users then can save all the worksheets they’d like there.  Second, there is a “Teacher Helpers” section, which includes everything from achievement certificates, to kids’ calendars, blank music sheets, lined paper, lesson planners/agendas, and blank templates to use for creating crafts and games.  There’s even an Excel elementary school gradebook teachers can print!

A third tool, which homeschoolers will love, is the Worksheet Generator.  This tool enables the user to create word search and other games, and even worksheets/tests using multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank questions.  There’s an entire section for creating math worksheets and tests.

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And how’s this for fabulous?  There is an answer sheet for every printable on the website, so that you can easily grade your child’s work!

All of the worksheets are in PDF format, and each one notes which grade(s) it is for.

How we used Super Teacher Worksheets:

First, I set up our account.  Next, I began browsing through all the many categories of worksheets available to me.  SInce my son is in 8th grade, he is slightly above many of the areas offered.  But there are quite a few worksheets that we were able to put to good use.  I found great worksheets and printed them immediately.  Later, I found “My File Cabinet” and started saving the PDFs so they’d be in my permanent file.

STW Pic 2


I used science worksheets, social studies worksheets, grammar worksheets and math worksheets the most.  These were an adjunct to our regular curricula; but such a helpful one!  This year I have changed the way we school each day and week.  We have a Literacy Hour, a Math Hour, and so on.  During our Literacy Hour, Jackson reads the fiction book we’re working on.  Then we’ll do a read-aloud (currently, it’s a biography).  Next, he’ll complete his handwriting and journaling.  With Super Teacher Worksheets, I’ve been able to add in a worksheet on parts of speech.  I also love the reading activity worksheets at Super Teacher Worksheets.  Your child can make a poster, fill out a book report form, write a letter to the book’s author, keep a reading log, and much more to add extra learning activities to reading or read-alouds.  There are even creative writing prompts and categories for Cause & Effect, Fact & Opinion, and Editing & Proofreading.  All of these and more were productive additions to our Literacy Hour.

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During our Math Hour, my son first does a pre-algebra lesson from his regular math curriculum.  Then, he does a math worksheet from Super Teacher Worksheets.  Next, we’ll play a math game together or he’ll play one on the computer.  The purpose for doing math this way is primarily to help him to be more conversant and comfortable with doing math.  The worksheets have been a great addition.  Often, the topic is something he learned in the past, but completing the worksheet provides excellent review.  The great thing about this website is that once we’ve exhausted all the math work he should be reviewing, I can create new (and more challenging) worksheets doing the Worksheet Generator.

We’ve also added in worksheets from the Science and Social Studies segments of the website.  These have also been great review.  I’ve especially appreciated the map worksheets; I’ve wanted to do a special unit on reading maps and navigating for some time.  So that has been a perfect addition!


STW Marcy pic 2

Our conclusions:

I can happily recommend Super Teacher Worksheets to any teacher of pre-K, elementary, or middle school age.  The worksheets are beautiful, concise and laid out in a very orderly fashion, whether it’s the more childlike pages for younger students or the ones for older students.  It has been so helpful to have an easy way to create great review work for my son, and especially to have such a plethora of resources right at my  fingertips.

The price is right, as well.  For only $19.95, your Individual Membership grants you a full year’s access to these thousands of worksheets!  Super Teacher Worksheets is a valuable resource for homeschool moms.  I recommend you visit their website and check out some of the free resources they have there.  I think you’ll be very pleased….and you might even want to subscribe yourself!

You can also visit Super Teacher Worksheets at their social media websites:


Enjoy!  –Wren


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