Category Archives: special needs education

If You Were Me and Lived In . . . A T.O.S. Review

We were sent four cute little books from Carol P. Roman with Away We Go Media to review in our homeschool.

We received:

If You Were Me and Lived In . . . South Korea . . .

If You Were Me And Lived In . . . France . . .

If You Were Me And Lived In . . . Mexico

and . . .

“If You Were Me And Lived In . . . Norway . . .”

The author was also kind enough to gift us with an inflatable globe, a couple of pencils with international flags printed on them, and a play passport set, all of which my boys thought were very cool, most especially the globe. 🙂

These books are the beginning of a series of books that can be used to introduce other countries and cultures to younger children. They are intended for children ranging from Pre-K through age 8, but my kids enjoyed them as well.

They range in price from $8.99 to $10.79 in the paperback editions, which is what we received, or $.99 to $1.99 in Kindle format, which some of the other Review Crew Members received.

Each of these books follows the same basic formula. It is a short book, approximately 25 to 30 pages long, exploring the culture of a different country.

At the very beginning, we get a picture of the country featured in the book, which has a star marking the capital. Then, we go right into the little story with a boy and girl pointing to their country on a globe. This is followed up by talking briefly about the capital city, and a picture of a scene from that city. Next, there is a picture of the boy and girl in a scene relating to where they are, and talking about three different names you might have if you are a boy, and three names that would be popular for a girl in that country. Next, along with a cute picture of the children doing something with their parents, we learn what you would call your mom and your dad in that language! From there, we next see the children in a place of business, and we discover what their money is called, what they might be buying there, and what the business would be called in their language. In the different books, we learn about a popular sport, a favorite vacation place, a holiday, special things they might eat, and their school. All of these things use words in the language of the country the book is covering.

At the end of the book is a page with a glossary of all of the foreign language words. This is perhaps the one thing I would change, I would have preferred to have the translations perhaps within parentheses right next to the actual words, that way, we would not have needed to go back and forth every time we came upon a word in a different language. 🙂

we did do our best though, to try to guess what the words meant, and occasionally, we were actually successful!

I think these books are nicely done, and very cute. As it turned out, they were a bit young for my older kids, but my twins like them, and I’ve seen them reading them again. And, the bonus is that all of the boys were looking for, and finding the different countries on the globe and on a map we have from a previous review. 🙂

To read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of these books, please click on the graphic below!
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As always, I would just love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information into the “sign me up!” button at the top right of the blog, and please, also go here and “like” our Facebook page!

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Filed under Away We Go Media, education, family, Foreign language homeschooling, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Language Arts, Learn to Read, read-alouds, Reading, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Post, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

Reasons For Homeschooling . . .

I came across this really good article “Comparing Homeschooling vs Public Schooling: Ten Reasons For Homeschooling (A Public School Teacher Tells All)“. I think it’s well worth reading, so I wanted to share it with you.

Some of MY reasons for homeschooling are:

It is the absolute best choice for my kids. That is more important than making the best choice for ME.

My kids are not being indoctrinated with a secular worldview.

My kids have a variety of special needs, so homeschooling allows us to work at their own paces, and in the ways they each learn best.

My kids do NOT need the sort of “socialization” found in schools, whether public or private.

We are not tied to a formal schedule. We can take off days for other things as we wish to do so, and we can work school in around life, as opposed to the other way around.

I’m sure if I sat here and thought about it, I could list a whole bunch of other reasons, but these are just the ones that came to mind right now.

Whether you homeschool, or your kids are in public or private school, I hope your choice is being made solely based upon what is best for YOUR children, not based on what other people may think of your decision. It’s not their decision, it is yours. Make it count.

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Filed under Christian faith, education, encouragement, family, home education, just me, Kids, special needs education, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

VocabularySpellingCity . . . A T.O.S. Review

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Do you want a value packed, full of fun online language arts program for your homeschoolers? Well, the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership might just be what you are looking for.

When I first looked at this program, in the process of deciding whether or not to request the review, my reaction was W.O.W., there is SO much available there, and this program is good for any students from kindergarten through 12th grade!

I have four boys, with very different learning abilities and styles, and VocabularySpellingCity is a site they are ALL enjoying.

My twins, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are, as you know, still working on learning to read. They are getting better, but VocabularySpellingCity seems to be actually helping them to comprehend the words a little better, as well. I have them working with “Word Family” lists, which are available in weekly segments, along with a great number of other types of lists, which you are free to import into your account and use.

With my older boys, “The Batman” and “The Artist”, I decided to use (at this time) themed lists, such as “October – Harvest”, for example.

VocabularySpellingCity takes a word list and wrings everything it possibly can from it. By the time they are done, your children will know pretty much everything they can about the words on the list you have assigned them!

Here is the assignment section from one of “Mr. Loquacious’s” weeks . . .

Activity Completed On Time on Task Status Score Missed Words Total 37 min
Spelling TeachMe 10/22/2013 4:11 pm 1 min Complete

Test-N-Teach 10/22/2013 4:12 pm 2 mins Complete

Audio Word Match 10/22/2013 4:15 pm 1 min Complete

HangMouse 10/22/2013 4:16 pm 7 mins Complete

MatchIt Definitions 10/22/2013 4:23 pm 4 mins Complete

Sentence Unscramble 10/22/2013 4:27 pm 13 mins Complete

Spelling TestMe 10/22/2013 4:41 pm 1 min Complete 100 %

Vocabulary TestMe 10/22/2013 4:46 pm 2 mins Complete 75 % get, set

WordFind 10/22/2013 4:48 pm 5 mins Complete

Word Unscramble 10/22/2013 4:54 pm 1 min Complete

As you can see, even though he doesn’t HAVE to do everything in one day, he was having so much fun, he just kept going! I will admit, though, that after the first couple of weeks, I realized they were all doing one or two assigned activities and then just moving right over to playing the games, so I’ve switched things around somewhat and told them they have to do the assigned things first! 🙂

Some of the learning activities that can be assigned are pictured below:

The Word-O-Rama game . . .
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Flash Card . . .
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Letter Fall
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Full disclosure, neither “Mr. Loquacious” or “The Puzzler” were very fond of “Letter Fall”, and asked me to change to something else on their assignments. They had a hard time with this activity, and the speed of it.

It is very easy though, to switch up the activities in an assignment. You are given a good size list of options, each one taking your chosen word list and teaching all sorts of things with it, from spelling, vocabulary (definitions, use it in a sentence, etc), there are word find activities, crosswords, just so many ideas that you can use to keep your kids interested long enough to really learn those words!

Here is a look at what you can offer to them as assignments . . .
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Here are “The Batman” and “The Artist”, both working on their VocabularySpellingCity assignments . . .

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And here are “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, working on theirs!
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Watch this short video to learn more about VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership . . .

Now, while you CAN get a free membership to VocabularySpellingCity, which would definitely give you a lot, including spelling lists, the parent page, printables and spelling tests, along with some other resources, I think the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership is a great deal. The cost is just $29.99 for an entire year, which covers up to five students.

Here, you can see a comparison checklist between the free membership and the premium checklist . . .

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As you can see, there is SO much available when you go with the premium membership! This has for sure turned into one of those products that the boys will have included into their educational schedule for this year, because, as you probably already are aware, I feel strongly that whenever possible, education can, and should, be fun. This is fun. When I have boys actually asking if they can go again after their brothers have finished doing their time on VocabularySpellingCity, well then, I think we definitely have a winner, don’t you?

To find out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of VocabularySpellingCity, please click the graphic below!
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As always, I would love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Please enter your email information in the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and also, do please go here, and “like” our Facebook page! Never miss another update! 🙂

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Filed under education, educational games, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Language Arts, Learn to Read, Reading, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013, VocabularySpellingCity

We’re FINALLY Back to Park Days Again!

Since I had surgery on BOTH of my feet in May of this year, the boys and I have not been able to attend the weekly home-school park days all summer. 😦 First, I couldn’t walk, or drive, then, I could walk only using a walker, then eventually a cane.

In the meanwhile, there had been a change in where the weekly park day would be held, so we’re at a new to us park. We like this park, and it’s a little easier and quicker for us to get to! 🙂

Happily, two weeks ago, the boys and I were finally able to go again, which we did for the very first time since before I had surgery back on May 15. I took my camera with me. And then, I forgot to take it out and actually USE it!

Last week, we didn’t attend. As you know, last Thursday we had company, friends who came in from Oklahoma to go to the International Balloon Fiesta.

So, yesterday, we were able to go to our home-school park day again, after another week off. It turns out though, that last Thursday, with the wind and rain in the area of the park, it pretty much didn’t happen anyway. THIS week, I remembered that I had my camera!

Here is the “The Batman”, waiting for a ball to be sent his way . . .

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“The Puzzler”, on his way to join the game (and unfortunately, it’s the only shot I got of him, which is why it’s somewhat blurry) . . .

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“Mr. Loquacious” was walking around, looking for “things to build stuff with” . . .

ABQ Park Day 003

And “The Artist” was just walking back to where we were to get some water and a snack . . .

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Meanwhile, *I* was sitting with a bunch of other moms . . .

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. . . truly enjoying the time I get each week to interact with other homeschooling moms, while my kids spend time with other home-school kids, and the added bonus that they are out in the fresh air, playing, running around. We do not have a good yard to play in, or a park right by our house, so they don’t get this all that often, unless we can get to a park day.

It’s also great for me to be with other moms on a regular basis who “get it” when it comes to my special needs kids, who have varying disabilities, including developmental delays and mental retardation. 🙂

If you are achomeschooling family, I strongly encourage you to become involved in a local park day group. This group is a pretty good bunch, and my boys and I are quite happy to be part of it!

As always, I would love it if you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information at the “sign me up” button at the top of the page, and never miss an update again!

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Filed under 2013, ABQparkday.com, Albuquerque, education, exercise, family, health, home education, Home-school Group, Homeschool Park Day, homeschooling, Kids, moving, special needs education, Transitions, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

God’s World News . . . A T.O.S. Review

For several years now, I have planned to subscribe to the magazine God’s World News, and then for one reason or another, just never did. So, when I found out it would be up for review by the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I of course requested the opportunity to review it with my four boys.

God’s World News Magazine, as it turns out, is a very good value for the cost. For a full year (10 months) subscription to the age range of your choice, you pay only $28.00. There is also no charge for regular shipping and handling.
With our subscription to the News Flash

we also received a 20″ x 30″ world map, which coordinates with the Map It! Locator maps in many of the magazine articles, allowing my kids to then look up where in the world the story is taking place. At my husband’s suggestion, I purchased a poster frame to put the map in, along with dry erase pens. That way, the paper map stays nice (I DO have all boys, you know!), plus, if they want to, they can now mark it up as we are learning, and the dry erase marker will wipe right off!

You can see the boys checking out the map below . . .

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God’s World News is available at several grade levels, all the way through high school.

I chose the News Flash edition because I thought it would be a good mid-range that all four of my boys would enjoy, and I was right. News Flash is actually written for kids in the 3rd – 4th grade range, and I have kids who range in ability from about kindergarten – 2nd grade all the way up to early high school level.

The various God’s World magazines are written to help your children build a biblical world view, when looking at stories in the news, at current events, and also at things in our history.

From the website:
News Flash emphasizes News, Knowledge and Wisdom while focusing on specific skills for students in this age range.

•Age appropriate stories illustrate for young students the truth that our merciful and sovereign God is active in the world.
•Lessons in the magazine and online use news stories as a springboard to teach concepts from Civics, Geography, Economics, Worldview and more.
•MAP-IT! Locator maps correspond with a full-sized (20″ x 30″) world map sent in September to each class, homeschool teacher, and homeschool group coordinator (five maps sent to homeschool groups).
•Creative puzzles build alphabet, number, sequence, and other skills.
•Grade-level website expands the God’s World News experience with ever-changing stories, editorial cartoons, and lots of downloadable activity sheets .

Our full year subscription included:

Ten, full color monthly issues (no issue in December or May), the afore-mentioned children’s website access, a weekly email newsletter for parents and teachers, which includes answer keys to the magazine quizzes and puzzles, and biographies and topical lessons to download and print, with quizzes and answer keys.

We have so far received the August, September and October issues of God’s World News Flash, and the boys are very much enjoying it! We have been reading stories about why people move (which discusses people who are illegally going into other countries to live, and the dangers when they do so), stories that teach some geography, stories about various animals and what they can do (for example, I did not know that dolphins use echolocation!).

There is often a “Bible2Life” section at the end of an article, like the one at the end of one of my boys’ favorite stories, “Hank Aaron: Natural Born Ball Player”. The article gave us two pages filled with his story and history, and then in the Bible2Life section at the end, talked about how God has plans for all of us. It used the verse Jeremiah 1:5, which tells us that the Lord knew us before we were even formed in the womb. The Bible2Life section of this story talks about how God “consecrates” us (and explains that to consecrate means to set apart for a special purpose), and asks the reader to think about what his or her special gifts might be, and how God wants him or her to use those gifts. Many stories in the magazine have a Bible2Life section, which helps the reader in developing a biblical world view, even when they move on to reading or viewing news stories from other sources.

You can download a sample issue of News Flash, a sample answer key, a sample lesson, and a sample of one of the biographies that are archived on the website

As you can see below, “The Batman”, “The Artist”, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are all enjoying both the News Flash Magazine AND the large world map!

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I also received a copy of “World Magazine“, which is the adult version of God’s World News. There are articles dealing with things such as the government shutdown, the death penalty, common core in education, marriage longevity, etc . . ., and my husband and I are enjoying it very much!

To sum it up, I believe that at $28.00, God’s World Magazine is an excellent value, especially when you add in the online extras that come with the subscription. I also feel that the News Flash edition is a very good fit for my kids. They are all interested in things that are being talked about in the news, but we really try to be careful of what they watch and read. There are often stories in the newspaper and on the news which we don’t want them to see, feeling that either the stories themselves, or the way they are treated in the news, are not appropriate for our children (or any children, often-times!).

Reading God’s World News gives them an opportunity to learn about, and discuss, world events, current events, etc . . . within a safer environment, and from a biblical world view.

The only thing I would change (and I bet my regular readers know exactly what I’m about to say, lol!) would be that I wish the Bible references would be from the Authorized King James Bible, which is the only version our family uses. While I realize other versions have become very popular, it does seem to me that if nothing else, it would be more cost-effective for publishers to use the KJV, as it is my understanding that there is much less of a copy-write issue when using the King James Version of the Holy Bible than when using other versions.

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Filed under Bible Study for kids, Christian faith, current affairs, education, family, God's World News, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, News Flash Magazine, Politics, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

My Kids Are Learning To Play Chess! (A T.O.S. Review)

Well! I have once again been pleasantly surprised by a review product I received as a result of being part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew . . .

the Starter Chess Learning Kit from the company Chess House!

I have to admit to you right now that after I was accepted for this review, I did have second thoughts . . . and third thoughts . . . and even fourth thoughts! In fact, if it were not for the fact that my kids had been begging for some time to learn how to play chess, I very likely would not have even expressed interest in this particular review! But, they HAVE been asking for a while, and so when this came up, I went for it, without letting them know. But then, I got picked, and thought, “Oh no! What if it’s too much for them?” Remember, with four boys who have a variety of special needs, many of them having to do with developmental delays and mental retardation, it can be easy to think they wouldn’t be able to follow something and learn from it. Boy, was I wrong this time! 🙂

I mentioned above that I chose not to tell the boys about this review until it came, so they were very excited to see it when it was delivered!

Our Starter Chess Learning Kit came with the following components:

•Elliott’s Chess School DVD 1 – “Pawn Level” introduces basics of chess in easily digestable chunks, keeping it fun and interesting for youngsters as well

•All purpose chess set that will last for years.

•Solid plastic chess pieces with 3 3/4″ regulation size king. Easy to obtain replacements.

•Odor free chessboard made in USA. 20″ x 20″, 2 1/4″ squares.

•Chess bag keeps all 32 pieces, roll-up chess board, and DVD together and portable. 24x8x3″

Everything was packed within a very sturdy, easy to transport carrying case in an attractive dark green color. Other color options are black, navy, green camo and tan camo.

This set is appropriate for all ages, and worked very well for my boys, who range in actual age from 12 – 20, but in developmental age from probably 4 – 12.

My boys were excited to get going with this review, so we popped the DVD in and began watching.

Here, we have everyone, “The Batman”, “The Artist”, Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” all watching as the teacher, National Master Elliott Neff, showed them step by step how to play this game that has actually been around for 1500 – 2000 years.

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I really do credit the DVD in this kit (Elliott’s Chess School #1 PAWN Level) for getting my boys engaged and excited to learn this game. The topics that they were taught with on the DVD are:

•Intro to Chess (board, names of pieces, values)
•Pawns
•Rooks
•Bishops
•The Queen
•The King
•Knight
•Castling
•Pawn shields and when to break it
•Development

And the features on the DVD are as follows:

•Bonus booklet with practice positions for every topic helps the learner practice and master the material presented.
•Introduction of each piece
•Understanding of the values of each pieces
•Best strategy for each piece
•”Pawn Shield” strategy (how to BLOCK your opponent’s army)
•Learning about the most important squares to control
•How to start a chess game with the BEST strategy

The DVD is not so long as to become tiresome, it comes in at 49 minutes, and after each topic is introduced and taught, we paused the DVD so the boys could play the practice game using just that topic’s pieces.

Here is just a little clip from the DVD showing how Elliot Neff teaches the game in a way that my boys were able to understand . . .

The practice games are given in the bonus booklet, which is tucked right into the DVD case.

Here, you can see the twins, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, playing one of their many games (they play it the most right now, although “The Batman” and “The Artist” do play with them at times.)

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As you can see, they have set up their own little audience of action figures to watch them play! 🙂

I am very pleased with this set. It has exceeded my expectations, and my boys have been able to understand the clear teaching by Elliot Neff. They are remembering what each piece is, how it moves, and what it can do. They are learning strategy, something that up until recently, I was unsure they would be able to do. And most importantly, because as you all know, I believe learning should be fun, if at all possible, they are having FUN! They are also no longer asking to play with the glass chess set I have decorating a shelf in our home, lol!

You and your children can also easily learn the game of chess from Elliot Neff. The Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House is available for the current price of $39.95 (regular price $49.95) with the Product Code: KP100.

Once you have mastered the Pawn Level DVD, there are other levels you can move on to in order to improve your skills:

Elliott’s Chess School #2 KNIGHT Level

Elliott’s Chess School #3 BISHOP Level

Elliott’s Chess School #4 ROOK Level

Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew also received the Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House . . . to find out what they thought of it, please click on the graphic below.
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As always, I would love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Please use the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog . . . just enter your email information and you’ll never miss an update again! 🙂

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Filed under Chess House, education, educational games, family, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review

Fundanoodle . . . Putting the FUN into Writing! A T.O.S. Review

Often, when we receive review opportunities from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we get things which really add some fun to the day. Fundanoodle, another product that I had never heard of, was just one instance of that sort of thing!

We received two books . . . I Can Write Lower Case!

and I Can Write My Own Stories!

Both of these tablets are suggested for ages 5 – 6, or K – 1st grade. Because of their developmental delays, along with other special needs, these were the tablets I chose when asked which products I would like to review.

“Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” were adopted four years ago at the age of 8, and could not read or write much at all, something we’ve very slowly been working on, along with other things that had to be made priorities. Now, though, they have progressed to the point that they can sit and do this, so we wanted to give this product a try.

With cute characters such as Max the Monkey and Alphie the Adventurer, Fundanoodle has been putting the “fun” back into writing practice around here. 🙂

“Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” our twins, have been working with these two books during the review period. What I have chosen to do is have them work together on the same page, by alternating lines, as you can see below . . .

“Mr. Loquacious”
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“The Puzzler”
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The Fundanoodle Handwriting Program was actually developed by two pediatric occupational therapists, Michelle Yoder, OTR/L, CIMI, and Amy Bumgarner, MS, OTR/L. Between the two of them, they have over twenty years of experience, with therapy specialty areas such as:

– sensory processing disorders
– autism and
– therapeutic listening
– the interactive metronome method
– TAMO and
– the SOS feeding approach

BOTH “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” have sensory processing issues, and “The Puzzler” is on the autism spectrum, which definitely caused this product to be of interest to me, when I read that the specialty areas of the developers of these products included both of these disorders, something I didn’t realize until I fully explored the Fundanoodle website.

We really liked the special instructions at the top of each page in the I Can Write Lower Case Tablet, words like “Zip” (make a straight line), “Zoom” ( make a diagonal line), “Buzz” (make a curved line), “hop” (hop on the page), “Bump” (curve the line down), and “Dot” (make a dot). These illustrations words really helped “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” to “see” what they needed to do when they are making different letters.

The letters are taught in a logical progression, having been sequenced according to a child’s development of visual and motor skills, with letters grouped according to the way they are formed. For example, l, I, & t all have similar movements, and so they would be taught in order before moving on to letters such as o, c, & a. There are also extra practice pages in the back of the tablet, along with a page on the website where you may download extra practice pages by entering the numbers from the upc code on the back of the tablet.

In the tablet I Can Write My Own Stories, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are practicing handwriting and writing concepts, including creative writing, sentence completion, story sequencing and more.

Story sequencing is a big thing for them to work on, so I really like that aspect of this tablet. In the very first story, they were given four pictures that told the story, and had to place a number within a smaller square on each picture to show which order the pictures belonged. After that, they were to write out what Alphie was doing, in order, to tell the story.

On a different page, they had to write a number next to the pre-written sentences to show what order they belonged in, and then draw a picture of what the story was about.

One of the things my boys most enjoyed, of course, was that for each completed page, there is a corresponding “I did it!” sticker to place at the bottom of the page. Since “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are doing these tablets together, they are taking turns applying the stickers as well. Here is “The Puzzler” attaching the “I did it!” sticker to a page from the I Can Write My Own Stories! tablet . . .

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These are spiral bound tablets, and in my opinion, one of the really nice things is that they are top bound, making them both left and right-hand friendly. I have an older child who is left-handed, and this would have benefitted him greatly when he was at the stage of learning to form letters.

Another great thing about Fundanoodle is that it takes very little time to do a page, so (at least in the case of MY boys), this product is beneficial when your kids have a very short attention span. Anything that takes “too long” becomes a battle around here.

I Can Write Lower Case! (52 sheets + sticker page) can be purchased here for $5.99, and I Can Write My Own Stories! (50 sheets + sticker pages) can be purchased here, also for $5.99.

I think “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are both enjoying I Can Write Lower Case! and I Can Write My Own Stories!, which makes them worth the price to me. I’m fairly sure that we will continue using these tablets as a fun addition to our educational time, probably twice a week, unless they ask for it more often.

To read what the other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of the various products from Fundanoodle, please click the graphic below!

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As always, I would LOVE it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life! Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the page and follow directions. Never miss an update again! 🙂

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