Saturday, May 18, 2013

Spanish for you! Review: Estaciones e-book

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I grew up speaking Spanish, it was everywhere in the community in which I spent my childhood. As a new Mom I was diligent to teach my little ones to be bi-lingual but admittedly with each new addition speaking Spanish to them has become less and less of a priority. However, because I still personally retain the ability to speak the language I am particular when choosing a Spanish curriculum for our homeschool studies. As a member of The Schoolhouse Review Crew I had the opportunity to review Spanish for You! Estaciones e-book with my 3rd and 6th grade boys.

Spanish for You! is a year long curriculum for 3rd to 8th graders. There are 5 units in the entire book but you can work at your own pace, with 4 days per week as the recommended study frequency.

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Spanish for You! currently offers 2 themes for their curriculum, fiestas and estaciones. They are planning to add a third theme, viajes, in the near future. Because the curriculum is based on themes you do not need to choose level, but rather whichever topic you want to learn about first.

You can view samples of each here:

Each curriculum set includes (from the website)
  • Spanish for you! soft cover book (allow up to 2 weeks for delivery) or E-book (trial pkgs.)
  • Plus the following downloads:
  • Audio download (MP3) of the entire book. You use these as the lesson guide instructs.
  • A free bonus audio of the entire book recorded by a native speaker from Mexico. (MP3)
  • 24-30 Week Lesson Guide (PDF) - The student (and parent if needed) follows this guide step-by-step to know what to do, at whatever pace works for you.
  • Self-checking worksheets (PDF) - You just print these as you need them. The lesson guide will tell you what you need to print and when.
  • Free set of pictures for making flashcards and other activity materials. (PDF)

With my older 2 boys I used Estaciones the recommended 4 days per week. Each days activities took them 20-30 minutes which I thought was very reasonable considering the material taught. Each lesson begins with new vocabulary and making flashcards (or you can print them). There are also fun activities and games to play to reinforce the words that are being learned, such as simon says. In addition to the games, the audio files really helped my boys pronounce the words. For some reason my native accent is hard for my oldest to understand and replicate, he was able to learn the words much easier with the audio files. As a homeschool Mom with multiple ages to teach, I love when a curriculum can be used with each of my children and taught simultaneously, this feature is such a time and sanity saver.

Both of my boys thoroughly enjoyed this curriculum and I think it was a great way to introduce them to the language. For my 3rd grader who grew up speaking Spanish, it was a great refresher for him (since I've seriously been lacking in reinforcing his Spanish skills). If you are looking for an introductory Spanish curriculum, you should consider Spanish for You!

Estaciones Pricing:
Grades 3-8, $64.95
Grades 3-4, 5-6, or 7-8 $39.95 each
Extra books, $12.95 each

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

LIteracy Soft Review: iPad App

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As a member of The Schoolhouse Review Crew I was given the opportunity to review the Phonics and Reading from McGuffey iPad app from Literacy Soft with my 6 year old daughter. My daughter is currently in Kindergarten and does not have much interest in learning to read so I was excited at the opportunity to give her a new tool to help spark her interest in learning to love reading.

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This iPad app is a 52 step program that when completed your child will be reading at a first grade level. Because my daughter shows little interest in reading and therefore is not at a typical kindergarten reading level, I appreciated that this app meets the child where they are currently at and expands from there to teach the child to enjoy reading.

To most effectively use this iPad app, I incorporated these lessons with the reading lessons we normally do one-on-one. When we are finished reading together, my daughter was able to use this app for as long as she liked (within reason of course). Using this tool she found a new interest in reading together and looked forward to her learning time on Mommy's iPad.

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Using games like the one shown above children learn to spell and read. The app is designed very well with an easy to use interface and large letters which make dragging easy for little fingers. In the time that we had for this review my daughter made noticeable improvement in her reading ability. At bedtime when we read together she now picks out words and says them all on her own without my prompting, I couldn't be more thrilled with her progress.

According to the website, this program is appropriate for homeschoolers, adult learners, dyslexia, and ESOL learners. 

The Phonics and Reading with McGuffey App is carefully crafted to: 
• Ensure no expert phonics supervisor is needed for students to gain maximum value from the lessons
• Work for any literacy level
• Act as your own personalized tutor, except in a computer
• Let students set their own pace, repeating or slowing down lessons as much as they like
• Guide your student step-by-step through reading and spelling practice
• Provide multi-sense learning including sound, vision, and motion to appeal to a wide variety of learning styles
• Utilize the power of synthetic phonics – the dyslexia-busting learning technique 
• Be simple and easy to use for students at any level  

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Details about the product:

Price: $19.99 through the iTunes store, it is also available in the lite version to try for free.

Over all I am very pleased with this learning tool and will continue using it with my daughter as well as my younger children when they are ready.


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