Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Writing Curriculum REVIEW

 Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. 




Writing for my high schooler has always been a struggle.  When you are not only dyslexic but also dysgraphic, you are bound to have some difficulties.  My high schooler has managed to overcome most of his dyslexia, it just makes him have to think harder.  The dysgraphia has been a work in progress.  We are always looking for programs to help us with these challenges.  I was excited to be able to try out the newly revised Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level C from Institute for Excellence in Writing®.  We have used some of their curricula before and have always been pleased with the results. I first received access to the first 3 weeks of the curriculum and then later received the entire program packet that included the student binder, labeled dividers, pages, teacher manual, and purchase code for my "forever streaming" access to the program.


The hard copies came nicely packaged in a cardboard box

You will need internet access for the video lessons.  In addition to the hard copy of the program, you also receive access to the online video lessons with Andrew Pudewa as the instructor.  If you have never heard of him or watched his videos you are in for a treat.  I really like him as an instructor and he seems to really capture the attention of my reluctant high schooler.  My high schooler was NOT looking forward to this program but Andrew has really helped him to be able to tolerate it well!  Andrew is a clear, concise, and entertaining instructor.  I think he is very good at capturing the attention of his students.





The kit comes with everything you need.  The binder has prelabeled dividers and there are instructions on how and what order to place the student pages into it.  The teacher manual is wonderful and has complete instructions on how to help your student along in the course.  Andrew does the teaching through the videos but you will also watch the videos to prepare for helping your student with the homework and grading.  There are instructions in the Teachers Manual on how to access the free downloads that you will use in the course for yourself and your student that include reproducible checklists, student samples (not available for Level C till early November 2020), and timestamps for the videos (invaluable for finding specific content you want to view!).

PDF downloads for teacher helps


Binder instructions for student pages


Andrew Pudewa does the teaching


The focus of the program is on nine structural models that include note taking, writing paragraphs, stories, simple reports, writing from pictures, research reports, creative writing, essays, and critiques.  Stylistic techniques taught include dress-ups (strong verbs, quality adjectives, etc), sentence openers (prepositional, clausal, etc), and decorations (alliteration, quotation, simile/metaphor, etc).

Sample Table of Contents



Sample teacher manual pages with overview and helps


There is so much more to this program than meets the eye.  It integrates seamlessly with Fix It! Grammar so if you are needing a grammar option then you can do that also. The weekly schedules include which lessons from Fix It! Grammar to cover.  There is an included scope and sequence section in the teachers manual that includes literature suggestions and another page that explains how to adapt the program for homeschool, one-day-a-week, two-or three-day-a-week, or four-or five-day-a-week programs.


Sample checklist to help in grading


Weekly lesson overview

Adapted 30 week schedule with scope and sequence

Even though lesson videos are over an hour long, you will see from the weekly schedule that it is generally broken down into two different days so your student has approximately 30-35 minutes of video twice weekly.  I really like that the schedule easily allows for a four-day week which works very well for my reluctant student who craves a day off here and there.

The timestamps PDF from the teacher files is
invaluable for finding specific topics



We have been following the included schedule and use the four or five day schedule as it suits us each week.  I am also excited that since he did not complete his Fix It! Grammar that we had received in the past, we can pick that back up and complete in it conjunction with this program.  I can't say enough about how much we are liking this writing curriculum.  My son hates to write and he doesn't like doing literature at all, but this program is getting him through his requirements with a lot less fussing than usual and the simple bite-sized lessons and Andrew's comic relief sure are helping us to do that!!

I highly recommend Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level C from Institute for Excellence in Writing®.  You can connect with IEW on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, and YOUTUBE.  Also be sure to check out the reviews from my fellow Crew members by clicking on the graphic link below.  There are free samples available on the IEW website so be sure to take advantage of those.


Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A, B & C {Institute for Excellence in Writing® Reviews}

Kitty Presents


 Lions and tigers and MICE, OH MY!!  Why do these farm cats think this is so endearing to us??!  I am grateful that she is a good mouser, but I sure could skip the present part.  Do you have a good mouser?  Do they leave you special presents?  Fall is certainly here and harvest time always brings the mice.  We are enjoying the cooler weather though.  Thanks for the present Katerina!!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Simply Coding REVIEW

 Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.



I can only say WOW!  I keep wanting my son to like coding for a good skill set for his future.  He LOVES video games and it just seems like a good fit.  When given the chance once again to receive a coding program I jumped on it.  I received a free Coding for Kids Annual Membership from Simply Coding and I am simply amazed.  I did not realize just how much we were going to receive with this membership. There is so much to cover and tell you about I hope I can do it some justice.  There are options for single or family use if you choose to purchase a membership.  It is designed for use by 11-18 year olds but based on what I see a mature 8 year old could easily begin and there is plenty to keep an adult occupied and learning!!

Coding lessons with future lessons grayed out

This is an online program that requires internet access and a decent laptop or computer to work on.  You will also be required to download additional programs (for free and paid) in order to complete certain modules.  Within the coding section, there does not appear to be any paid programs necessary.  We were able to use the text editor and download images for free from a suggested website.



There are a LOT of lessons within the tabs to choose from!

Did I say there was a LOT you get with this homeschool coding program? There are 4 sections (tabs) to choose from.  Each tab has a large assortment of programs to learn.  Some lessons are not available until you complete prerequisites first.  Most lessons have a syllabus to help summarize what you will learn and help keep you on track.  You also have the option to upload files for grading if you choose to use it for school credit.  You can see from the graphics above what is covered within the different sections (tabs).

Sample of part of the syllabus on websites

My son is really into fabricating homemade knives.  He's actually quite good at it. It seemed to make the best sense to start with building a website.  It is a work in progress and it has been a great learning experience.  I'm looking forward to the completed project, or at least what would be considered completed.  I understand that you will often update your website, but I can't wait for the finished product once this module is completed.  Progress has been slow, but it's getting done!

Lesson 1 code

Lesson 1 visual result (pretty cool!)

The lessons are simple and straight forward.  They are broken down into simple, bite-sized, pieces.  I REALLY like that there is a video component that basically walks you through the lesson step by step (generally about 3 minutes or so long).  This is such a tremendous help for my son. There are also HINTS within each lesson that actually shows you the code if you don't understand or can't figure it out.  There are quizzes throughout to help keep your student on task and measure their retention. They are simple 5 question quizzes that are automatically graded as you complete them.




Lesson samples showing lesson text and also video component

There is a Parent Dashboard where you can manage your personal information, subscription, passwords, and see your student's progress.  Another really nice feature is the Live Teacher Sessions.  We have not participated in any of the live sessions, but they are archived and available for viewing at any time.  They are wonderful!!  They show you how to code additional projects and even give you the code to copy for your own.  You can then use the code to play the game or edit it to customize it to your own liking.  If you need help or have questions there is an active online help chat available.  There is even a link to a Game Design Challenge that your student can enter if they meet the qualifications!!


Parent Dashboard



The following are samples from the website project.  There is much to do, but progress is being made and a lot is being learned.  It is so exciting to see the progress and the "aha" moments.


The coding and the resulting website



Next up will be learning how to code trivia questions

This has been a great learning experience and I am so glad we decided to try it.  I highly recommend this homeschool coding program to anyone interested in coding or just wanting to be a little more tech-savvy.  I think even my son was a little surprised at the ease of use and the wide variety of programs to choose from.  We give the Coding for Kids Annual Membership two thumbs up.  You can connect with Simply Coding on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.  Be sure to see what my fellow Crew Members think by clicking on the graphic link below.


Coding for Kids Annual Membership {Simply Coding Reviews}
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