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Category: Curriculum Reviews

One of my obsessions with homeschooling is learning at least one foreign language. Having a Spanish degree, it’s only natural that I’d push Spanish. So I’m always checking out new Spanish curriculum, and by now, we’ve tried quite a few and have stuck with our favorites. But a new one that kept popping up on the forums was The Fun Spanish by Kimberly Garcia. I managed to resist checking it out for quite some time but of course finally succumbed to a Google search. I found it on Amazon in paperback for $17.85, put it in my cart, but there it sat for over a week.

The Fun Spanish

A few days back I tried to find more reviews for the program, and finally found it on a new educational products website – Educents. After googling Educents, finding out they were founded in April 2013 by two women and are a legit company, I added some products to my cart. Wanting to support this cool startup company dedicated to providing K-12 educational resources for extremely affordable prices, I went through and completed the purchase.

Educents

From Oakland Local, 8/6/14

So I got The Fun Spanish in PDF format for only $7.50! Since it was a download, in seconds I was already printing out the book, in minutes started Proclicking it, and now I have an awesome lay-flat Spanish workbook!

The Fun Spanish describes itself…

The Fun Spanish is a fun, beginning Spanish program which teaches Spanish the Charlotte Mason way, one fun phrase at a time. Elementary children read fun Spanish sentences, write fun Spanish sentences, and draw fun silly pictures to aid in memory retention. With The Fun Spanish children draw pictures of green cats, orange rats, fish in trees, and blue houses with wings. Verb conjugations included are the following: ser (to be) , estar (to be), tener (to have), vivir (to live), comer (to eat), jugar (to play), saltar (to jump), ver (to see), oír (to hear), dormir (to sleep) and querer (to want). Besides verb conjugation, prepositions, and a host of vocabulary, children using The Fun Spanish also learn the fundamental structure of Spanish sentences.

Quickly leafing through it, I determined for our purposes it would be a quick Spanish review for Satori. She knows quite a bit of vocabulary and verbs, but needs practice in conjugating verbs. Luckily The Fun Spanish focuses big on Verb Conjugation. There seems to currently only be a Level 1 book out so far, and there are 17 lessons in Level 1, with five Days per lesson, making it a One Semester Curriculum. For children new to Spanish, the book suggests spending two weeks per lesson, reviewing between days, but we won’t need that, this is just a reinforcement and practice on what Satori has learned already.

funspanish1

Each Lesson is broken into five days, which covers two pages of the workbook. The format goes like this:

  1. Verb Conjugation – read, memorize, and copy the verb conjugations
  2. Vocabulary (about 7 words)
  3. Translation Practice – a sentence in English is provided to translate. I add a line to the page for Satori to write down the translation
  4. Model – A longer, descriptive Spanish sentence where the child is to copy the sentence and then draw the picture

The silly sentences in which the child is asked to draw is appealing to children, which earns the book its title. 🙂 Here we have what looks to be an engorged tick, but is really Un gato grande y verde con piernas largas (a green and large cat with long legs).

Un gato grande y verde

 

I think she was trying to make fun of our fat cat Kashi…

 

 

 

kashi

 

As we personally will be using this mostly as verb conjugation review, I’m going to list the verbs once again. Most of these she has learned in Getting Started with Spanish book, but I do see some new ones. I’m looking forward to her getting used to a well-rounded list of useful verbs, including stem-changing, irregular verbs.

  1. ser
  2. estar
  3. tener
  4. vivir
  5. comer
  6. jugar
  7. saltar
  8. ver
  9. oír
  10. dormir
  11. querer

The $7.50 PDF download looks like it will only last for five more days, according to Educents (making it good until 8/23/14), but maybe it will be offered again. It says it is 50% off a price which is still lower than Amazon’s current price.

Hopefully a new Fun Spanish level will be out this winter or early next spring, as I figure this curriculum will be super easy to stick to faithfully each week, and we’ll have completed Level 1 by then.

If you are a Pandia Press fan or are curious about their programs, now is the time to check them out. Pandia Press is now offering 25% off all REAL Science Odyssey and History Odyssey eBooks.

We are huge R.E.A.L Science (RSO) fans after having tried several science programs that were either too simple or too challenging to implement. I’ve blogged plenty about our experiences with RSO Life. I especially love it because it has been effortless to teach and I (and Daddy) have learned tons. I plan to blog about our Plant Study later this week and then we will dig into their next program – Earth and Space.

I have an updated, easy-to-find list of books to use with RSO Life, and will include our favorite Plant books to complete the list. We’ve also had fun adding Discovery Education Streaming and BrainPop videos and resources to go along with the lessons. Currently the following R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Level One eBooks are available – Life, Earth & Space, and Chemistry. We have all three and are looking forward to the release of Physics 1 and the Level 2 series. Biology Level 2 is already in the works, soon to be released.

You’ll notice that the books correspond to the classical education suggestions on science studies, but anyone can use them. Same with their History Odyssey offerings. For history, they have all three levels available – they have 10 years of history available! By the time we reach Level 3 (grade 9-12) stage, I’m sure the final two years will be up. Each level has age-appropriate lessons and goes through the same cycle for each level – Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern and Modern Times. I just purchased Middle Ages 1 yesterday at the sale price of $21.75.

The Pandia Press Timeline will go perfectly with their history program. I blogged about the new Pandia Press Timeline earlier this summer.

Pandia Press offers a great Try Before You Buy with an extensive preview of their books if you’re not sure their program is for you. I highly suggest heading on over to the Pandia Press 25% off eBook sale check it out. The sale will go on for this month of September only.

A few months ago the Growing With Grammar folks released their new writing program – Winning With Writing. Since Growing With Grammar has been such a success in our homeschool, effectively getting her grammar skills up very fast our first year, I was very anxious to start Winning With Writing. We haven’t found a writing program that we found both effective and easy to use until now with WWW. Satori’s writing skills have really blossomed this summer, and I know that WWW has played a large part.

The kind folks helped me select which level of book to start with and even sent me a free book to review. This does not affect my review however, and I am not affiliated with them other than this free book. I wanted to get through the program enough to be able to write an informative review, and we will be starting Lesson 14 next week, when we officially get back to serious schoolwork again. Although we have only three month’s worth of a very relaxed summer under our belt, this blog post will detail our initial thoughts and experience.  I definitely plan to blog again this fall once we’ve gotten more into the program.

What Is Winning With Writing?

The Winning With Writing (WWW) program is a complete writing program with 8 different levels, from Grade 1 through Grade 8 (named Levels so that students can work higher or lower without thinking they are behind/ahead). Each level has 36 lessons, which corresponds to a typical 36-week school year, with each lesson comprised of five days. The first day introduces the concept with a short exercise. The next days expand on the concept with more exercise work. Toward the end of the lesson, the student may be exploring and experimenting with their own writing. The books are divided up into two semesters – First Semester and Second Semester, dividing the books so they are easier to handle. All lessons and written work is included in these books, it is the ultimate open-and-go curriculum. They are spiral bound so they lie flat, which we like very much. The Complete Set, which is the best deal, is only $25.99 for the two semester workbooks and two semester answer keys.

Which Level?

I was up in the air about starting with either Level 3 or Level 4 though, but with the help of their customer service and the fact that Satori does not yet effectively write in paragraphs helped me solidify my choice – Level 3. Level 3 starts the student in Paragraphs by Lesson 13 in the First Semester and expands on various paragraph types throughout the Second Semester, expecting one paragraph work at that time. Level 4 assumes 3-paragraph work in which Satori would not be ready at this time.

A complete Winning With Writing Scope and Sequence can be found on their website to aid you in determining your child’s appropriate level.

Level 3 Table of Contents

(You can see the Table of Contents and Sample Lessons for any Level on their website)

What We’ve Learned So Far in Level 3

As Satori has an insatiable appetite for writing, so the first few lessons of Level 3 have been a review. Pretty much everything we’ve covered so far she has enjoyed learning and has consequently utilized the concepts in her independent writings. Shortly after learning the basics such as Word Order and Sentences, the program gets into helpful writing skills like descriptive verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. Her writing is filled with such descriptive parts of speech, and I thank both Growing With Grammar (we also use Level 3) and Winning With Writing for that.

New for Satori that we haven’t learned in any other grammar or writing programs was learning about Similes and Metaphors. I’ve noticed she is now spicing up her writing by using such techniques.

Varying Sentences lesson has been helpful, as children at this age typically write short choppy sentences.  We learned that using different sentence lengths makes the story easier to read. She cannot stand to read early reader books as they have such short sentences, she calls it “bad literature”, lol. Even I’m learning to improve my own writing. 🙂 Satori’s own writings include a nice combination of long and short sentences, so I’d say she took these lessons to heart as well. For another peek into the program, you can see 18-pages of sample lessons.

As you can see, the lessons are short so reluctant writers shouldn’t have any problem getting the program done each day. Some “Days” only take us a few minutes however, so we’ve been doing 2-3 lessons each workday.

After every five Lessons, there is a 5-day Lesson review, covering the previous five lessons.

Best Deal – the Complete Package

If you get the Complete Package (adds $2 for both answer books) or order the Answer Keys separately ($3), you’ll get smaller spiral-bound books with the answers. Maybe in the early grades you may not need answers, but I find the Complete Package such a great deal that we will probably get the whole set going forward.

There are no tests included such as they offer in the GWG program, but it’s easy to see if concepts were indeed learned just by looking at my daughter’s writing.

Ending Thoughts

We really look forward this fall to continue using Winning With Writing – the only writing program we’ve found so easy to implement with its open-and-go ease! It’s very structured so age-appropriate writing skills are gained quickly. The lessons are all laid out so there’s no excuse not to get to writing each day. I think that this program could even possibly be used independently, perhaps Satori will use it that way at level 4. The price is great, their shipping fast, and the lessons absolutely painless to include everyday.

As mostly classical homeschoolers ourselves, writing is one subject we stray from the recommendations of just doing narration and dictation for writing for the grammar years (grade 1-4). Writing brings such pleasure to Satori that I am happy to help her along with the skills to write even more.