Beestar Review – Math, Reading, and English Language Arts

My family had the opportunity to do a Beestar Review over the last few weeks and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Beestar is an innovative online math and reading curriculum provider for kids! BeeStar is a FREE online course and lasts an entire semester, or all year long, depending on how often you want to use it. It’s a fantastic way to test your child’s knowledge. There are two weekly exercises that your child completes. Students will receive an immediate score upon completion. Although parts of the site are free, there are other areas that collect a $20-$30 fee for programs such as ELA and Gifted/Talented math.

For any homeschool parent looking for fantastic curriculum-based, online exercises for their children, I highly recommend Beestar. Here’s why:

  • This is a supplementary program (2 exercises/about 20 minutes per week). I find that my kids do well with lots of supplemental programs to engage their learning when I am not teaching them individually.  Beestar is fantastic because it provides an opportunity for practice and allows your children to improve on subject knowledge. I wouldn’t suggest using this as your core curriculum because it’s more of a practice test for your kids, but it’s a great way for your kids to master the skills you are teaching them with their core curriculum. Our family really liked the program a lot for this very reason. You can see samples of exercises here. And guess what?  The Beestar math program is absolutely FREE!  There is a small cost for the other subjects – $20-$30 per semester/per course – a very reasonable price in my opinion.

Here are some of the reasons I love Beestar for our homeschooling journey:

  • The exercises are posted on the student’s home page on Sunday and due at midnight of the next Saturday (CST). The student can work on the exercises any time during the week. Most exercises follow the standard test format with multiple-choice problems. The exercises start with basic content and as time goes by, the exercises get a little more difficult. Each exercise usually has 10 problems/questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete.
  • After the student finishes an exercise, the work is graded instantly – this includes score, time taken to finish, and a review of the answers. Each question is worth 2 points, so the total score for an exercise is 20 points. I love that I don’t need to grade them and that I get a report of what my child needs more help on. It also provides the answers when your child doesn’t answer correctly, helping to teach them while also testing their knowledge.
  • If a child doesn’t finish his/her exercises by Friday, Beestar sends the parent a friendly reminder. This is so helpful!
  • At the end of every week a report is sent to the parents. It includes the student’s exercise details and statistics. Parents can see the areas needing improvement, and can help their child as necessary. This is incredibly helpful and one of the main reasons I love this program. It helps me understand where I need to spend more time on teaching each week. For example, my daughter was having trouble with some of the 8th grade math questions but was a master in her reading program. So, we spent more time on math the following week and we saw a significant improvement in just one week! It is SO IMPORTANT to know where to focus your time as a homeschooling parent.
  • At the end of the week, weekly honor rolls are released for all grades and subjects. Students who answer 80% of questions correctly in a week earn an honor roll ribbon. These students’ placements are determined by the total amount of time they use in the exercises. Students can vividly see their achievement and share their success with parents. Since homeschooling is individualized, I love this aspect of the program because my kids are somewhat competitive (they get that from my husband) and so it really motivates them to do the work and earn their Honor Roll Ribbons!
  • Beestar has a National Competition. The Beestar National Competition (BNC) is designed to bring students nation wide together to solve interesting problems and compete with one another. The problems in BNC are designed to both consolidate fundamental knowledge and inspire students’ desire to explore. By exposing them to more interesting and mind-stretching topics, the competition problems challenge students to wonder and to research. For more info about the BNC, click here.

Let’s dive into the program a little more.

You can use Beestar for printing worksheets to help with supplementing your homeschool math, ELA or Science program. I love having worksheets on hand when we have a busy week because it helps me stay sane. Here are some examples of the math worksheets we used this week. I thought the layout was great and my kids enjoyed working on them.


Here are some examples of the exercises my kids did this week as well, through the Beestar program.

The program schedules for Beestar can be found below as well. This is helpful if you want to start at the beginning of each semester so that your student can participate in each week.


Beestar Homeschool Program – Conclusion.

I will continue using Beestar as a fantastic supplemental homeschool program for our family. Here are a few reasons I want to continue using Beestar in our homeschooling:

  • It’s a good supplemental program – you can never have too many options/resources for this in my experience. I like the mastery aspect of this program.
  • Beestar work is completed quickly – short time spans, instant results.
  • The weekly outline/program topics page provides a great overview for the parent – especially if you have multiple kids.
  • The student homepage is set up very nicely – your student can access weekly exercises and review exercise results and statistics, honor roll ribbons and score bar charts, and preview future exercise topics.
  • The Parent Home Page lets you check on each of your students – see times spent on exercises, review the exercises, and review stats and see the honor roll/bar chart data.
  • As mentioned, Beestar provides motivational recognitions every week. Accuracy medals and speed trophies – everyone likes being recognized…and it’s something to strive for.
  • Also mentioned previously – the Beestar National Competition (BNC) is open to all students – and held during the Fall and Spring semesters.
  • Free printable math worksheets – Want to practice more after Beestar’s weekly exercises? The website offers FREE printable math worksheets! Provided as a complimentary addition, the printable worksheets complement Beestar’s online programs and are a FANTASTIC resource for any homeschooling parent. It’s a struggle to find quality printables. They seem to be everywhere (printables) but most aren’t very good quality, and I appreciate the quality that Beestar provides!
  • I appreciate the recommended math books by grade level. A great way to make math fun!
  • There’s a Gifted and Talented (GT) program.
  • The site offers referral credit towards fee-based programswhen you have 2 or more successful referrals, you can sign up for one fee-based program.

Interested in Beestar? You can learn more about Beestar here:

Did you like the Beestar Math and Reading Review? You can view more of our reviews here:

Vocabulary Quest Review

I’m always looking for fun ways to learn. I notice that my kids enjoy the process more, and retain the information better when they’re having fun. My kids love all types of games — board games, card games, and especially video games (although we limit video games to mostly educational ones around here). If your kids are anything like mine, then you’re going to want to continue reading, because I’m thrilled to share with you how excited I am about a program called Vocabulary Quest — a fantastic vocabulary builder for homeschoolers.

Vocabulary Quest is a great vocabulary builder and software program for homeschoolers of all shapes and sizes. The word lists it contains are both intermediate and advanced so I would recommend it for middle or high school students, and maybe even advanced upper elementary. I also think this game would be a great way for adults to keep their brains sharp and expand their own vocabulary. Before I give my kids any new program to use, I try it out myself, and I found myself not wanting to stop playing! The program is also a great way to cover the vocabulary needed to prepare for ACT and SAT test, so if you’ve got a student who is getting ready for those College entrance tests (one of mine is!), this would be a great, fun way to practice.

My kids are ages 9, 11, 14 & 16. They all tried Vocabulary Quest as a vocabulary builder and all of them liked it a lot. My 14 year old especially. I almost couldn’t get him to stop. They all asked to play multiple times a week, which I value in a homeschool program. That way I’m not trying to force them to learn, they are interested in learning themselves. Since my husband was an English major, we’ve always taught our kids vocabulary and we always try to learn new words every week. Strangers sometimes stop me and tell me how eloquently my children speak for their age. My husband and I both take pride in this. So, giving us another way to incorporate new words into their weekly routine is a blessing for us.

The thing I love most about Vocabulary Quest is that it is a highly interactive learning software that is a fantastic vocabulary builder. There are fun visuals and a highly adaptive interface that fuels an interactive learning process. Further, it offers students a variety of ways in which to practice and hone skills – crosswords, matching games, multiple choice, flash cards, short tests, and the way my kids loved to play most, by pitting themselves against colorful monsters summoned by mages. Word recognition and comprehension are essential to winning these timed battles. Along the way, players join guilds, acquire special powers, unlock levels, access new armor to wear and more! There are 1200 advanced vocabulary words in all, organized into theme-based sublists that can be arranged in a myriad of ways so that it’s always fresh and fun!

Here’s how the game works:

As a vocabulary builder, the vocabulary words are practiced in groups of five. There are four basic mini-games you can play to learn the words. These mini-games are classic ways that vocabulary is normally studied; multiple choice, crossword, matching, and fill-in-the-blank. As you work through the games the program will create a list of the words the student misses and add them to the section labeled ‘Recommended to Study’.

For additional practice your student can use the flashcards, quick test, and spelling activities.

The games can be replayed as many times as needed to hit mastery. In the final game your child will be conquering an enemy. Their chance of conquering the enemy is based on the speed and accuracy of the answers. They will see a definition on the screen and need to type the correct word, spelled perfectly (and quickly).

After you answer the questions, the battle between your character and the enemy will take place automatically, and you will win or lose, depending on how well you answered the questions. You have to win this round before the next five words are unlocked.

As you play through the game you unlock better armor and weapons, which you can equip in the armory.

The kids had a ton of fun battling the Mages and would run into the kitchen and tell me all about the words they learned while playing. It was a way for us to talk about different words and meanings each day. The kids knew some of the words already, but didn’t know a lot of them, and throughout the weeks we used the program (we’re still using it), I would hear them incorporate words into their everyday lives. That was by far the neatest outcome of using this program. I love seeing my kids progress in real life — not just in the classroom.

Some things to know about using Vocabulary Quest in your Homeschool…

  • It is designed to be supplemental — it is not a curriculum, which is a huge perk for me and many homeschooling parents. It means you can pick it up when you need to, and use it as a supplement to your typical homeschooling routine. It also makes it feel more fun — as if it isn’t really school work.
  • It is designed to teach a large and advanced vocabulary and that means you don’t need to buy a bunch of levels or a new vocabulary program each year!
  • Kids can work independently. I can’t stress how important this is — especially if you are ho meschooling multiple age groups. Truly, I love independent learning because it not only helps me as a homeschooling mom, but it teaches my kids how to think for themselves and stay busy. A valuable skill for any child.
  • It is not an app! I love that this isn’t on a phone or tablet. They kids have to use the computer, which is a welcome change to their everyday lives. It’s still a computer game, but at least it’s on a bigger screen!
  • I suggest limiting their time to 30 minutes a day or less. It’s a game, but it’s also school work, and while I love fun learning opportunities, I also value time away from the computer. 30 minutes a day is plenty and will give you and your kids a lifetime of learning with this program with that daily time limit.

Vocabulary Quest is available either as a download or as a physical CD and is intended for use on a computer with either Windows 7, 8 or 10 operating system (32 and 64 bits). Vocabulary Quest is also a 2020 Tillywig Award Winner!

You can learn more about Vocabulary Quest and how to purchase the program from their website:

Zinc Learning Labs Review

Ready to get your kids to love reading? Zinc Learning Labs is passionate about creating a world where all students love to read and have the skills to do so successfully. Their online tools are making this mission a reality.

Zinc Learning Labs is unique in that it was created only for middle and high school aged students. Their content targets their unique reading needs and interests. You can assign your students/children reading, vocabulary sets and close reading exercises or allow free choice. With free choice, kids can pick the content that they’re excited about, which means they’re more likely to put in the effort to complete a challenging task.

Zinc Learning Labs addresses the literacy needs of all middle and high school students, from reluctant readers to high achievers. First, a quick diagnostic will test your student and establish independent reading levels. Then Zinc Learning Labs will teach students close reading strategies and new vocabulary. With these new skills and words, students can then train their reading abilities with a wide selection of leveled, authentic texts. After each reading, students take a short assessment, which generates robust data to help you, as the parent, target instruction and monitor progress.

The great thing about Zinc Learning Labs is that it has three key components: articles with quizzes, vocabulary, and close reading instructions

Their “Articles” are about 90%nonfiction and 10% fiction excerpts and poetry. All texts are authentic because they curate the best texts from around the web. You can filter by interests (ex. sports, technology, science, etc.), by reading level (from 4th grade reading level up to college level), by reading standards, reading skills, and length. You can also search for article sets that complement common novels/plays, like The Great Gatsby and Romeo and Juliet. Each article is accompanied by a short, standards-aligned, self-grading quiz.

My favorite part of their platform is Vocabulary. They have sets by grade level, for test prep (ACT, SAT, AP, etc.), to go with common texts (ex. The Scarlet Letter), and to go with each piece of text on their site. What I really love is that parents can also create their own custom sets quickly and easily. My high schooler is prepping for his SAT and we’ve been using the vocabulary section of their site a lot. I can tell you it works! Interestingly, their vocabulary instruction is unique because they use spaced repetition. Students see each word six times over two months before they consider it mastered. To make sure that students fully understand new words’ meanings, they have them interact with four modes of game play: image, sentence, definition and synonym.

And third, they have close reading experiences. Research shows that adolescents need explicit reading instruction to be able to comprehend complex secondary-school and college level texts. Our instructors go through excerpts of diverse texts line by line, sometimes word by word to teach the key skills for close reading.

If you have a high school student at home, you know how hard it is to find curriculum and resources geared specifically for middle & high school students. It seems like everything is geared towards the lower grades. That’s why I was so excited to review this program and use it with my kids. Finding something like this, tailored to their age range and skill level made a huge difference in our homeschooling.

In addition to what Zinc Learning Labs offers above, they have a placement test that you can give up to three times a year to monitor progress.For some extra motivation, they have points and leaderboards (gamification is so huge with my kids).

Here are a few of the things I love most about this program:

  1. It’s tailored to Middle & High School students but if your child is behind or ahead, their materials cover 3rd grade through College.
  2. The close reading experiences are like mini tutoring sessions and help students how to dissect and comprehend complex texts across levels. Even students on or above grade level can improve using these techniques.
  3. They support Spanish speaking/ ELL students
  4. Individualized reports on each student so that you can understand where they may be struggling or where they are advancing. Such a great tool and I don’t have to grade anything!
  5. One aspect of Zinc I really like is that I can plug virtually any text into the program and create my own vocabulary list to go with the article.
  6. Their test prep links are amazing.
  7. The gamefication of the program works well because students can earn points for growth & it gets them motivated!
  8. With Zinc’s library of diverse texts, I could find a variety of relevant and engaging readings with built in assessments, including both multiple choice questions and writing prompts for my son.
  9. I can easily monitor and assess his progress via their online platform.
  10. My son can choose texts based on length, reading level, genre, or subject. To top if all off, each article comes with a set of vocabulary games to help students learn the vocabulary they will need to understand the text.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can watch a ~2 min. overview video here or sample an excerpt of their interactive close reading lessons here. You can also browse though their authentic texts, which they update every week, here and you can try their vocabulary games here.

Ready to purchase? You can do so at the Home School Buyers Co-op.

JoyFully Read! Product Review

Homeschool with JoyFully Read!
Help Your Own Children and Co-op Read

JoyFully Read! is a 3 step, multi-sensory program, that take students from the beginning level of reading (learning phonemes) to being an independent reader. JoyFully Read! is designed to eliminate teacher preparation time (lesson plans/suggestions are included in the Teacher Kits), encourage family support, and give homeschoolers the ability to easily incorporate reading into their busy lives.

And to support homeschool families, JoyFully Read! offers Homeschool Bundles at a highly discounted rate. Bundles include Teacher Kits, student workbooks, flashcards, music CDs, readers, practice cards, posters, stickers, game cards, and reward certificates. Contents are all color-coded, pre-cut, and made to last.

JoyFully Read! – Putting the Joy Back into Reading!

3-Steps.  Which Step Should You Start with?

You should start with the 1st Step if your student:

  • is just beginning to read
  • has not mastered the entire alphabet in terms of letter sounds (knowledge of letter names doesn’t matter at this point)
  • has not mastered basic blending
  • has not mastered basic segmenting
  • has not mastered the *listen/say process (auditory processing)
  • needs introduction/a great deal of practice writing individual letters

Your student is ready for 2nd Step if she:

  • has mastered all basic letter sounds (knowledge of letter names doesn’t matter at this point)
  • has mastered the blending process in simple 3 letter words
  • has mastered the segmenting process in simple 3 letter words
  • shows readiness for weekly “spelling lists/tests”
  • can write letters satisfactorily
  • does well with the *listen/say process
  • has sight word knowledge up to K level

Your student is ready for 3rd Step Part 1 if she has mastered all of the previously listed skills, and has:

  • mastered sh, th, ck, ch, VC, CVC, CCVC & CVCC, blending, segmenting, and auditory processing
  • confidence in writing legibly
  • spelling skills that include all Dolce Frequency Words through Level K, including some more advanced level words

Your child is ready for 3rd Step Pt. 2 if he has mastered all of the previously listed skills, and has:

  • mastered qu
  • “ ’c’ followed by ‘e, i or y’ ” practice
  • “vowel, consonant + e” practice
  • knows all vowels long and short sounds and their common spellings (there are about 60)
  • mastered spelling at a level of at least Grade 2
  • the ability to Listen /say. The teacher says the word, the student listens, and is then able to say each sound in the word, as well as pick them out visually (spell)

Note: If your student is starting 3rd Step Pt. 2 with no prior JoyFully Read! instruction,  you do need to purchase the green 3rd Step Pt.1 sound cards.  

Here are pics from the Parent & Teacher Program Information Notebook:

And here are some pages from the Student Workbook:

And look at all the FUN stuff!  Of course, it’s educational too!

JoyFully Read! Product Review – What do I like about this program?

  • It works!  🙂  🙂  🙂
  • It works for kids that are behind, on target, and excelling at learning how to read.  This program helps kids with dyslexia how learn to read too
  • The program enables students to associate reading with positive, achievable, genuinely joyful experiences.  How wonderful is that!?!
  • The program is FUN.  Music, games/exercises, workbooks, fun characters, and flashcards are used in just about every session. Plus, there is Game Time!
  • MUSIC!  I know, I mentioned this already, but I love pairing music with learning – my kids tend to remember info better if combined with music.
  • Overall philosophy – it’s OK to make mistakes – life is about practicing, making mistakes, fixing them and moving forward.  We can do hard things.
  • It’s a very positive program, with lots of praise.
  • The quantity of materials.
  • The quality of materials (good for large families and co-ops).
  • It’s multi-sensory – so it works well for all learning styles.
  • I like how the sessions are set up – each 45 minute lesson includes: Stage 1 – 5 minute warm up/review; Stage 2 – a 25 minute lesson; Stage 3 – a 15 minute game; and Stage 4 – a one minute challenge and session reward. Kids choose a daily challenge to work on.
  • I LOVE the cute characters – Taf the Cat ad Tom the Dog.
  • It’s user-friendly.  It’s organized.  It makes sense.  And there’s no prep time. Really, it’s a breeze to use.
  • The company gives you plenty of help along the way, including training videos for every Step.
  • You can purchase separately or as a set – I appreciate options.
  • This company was started by a homeschool mom of five.  I like supporting other homeschoolers, don’t you?


Did you like our JoyFully Read! Product Review? We really enjoyed writing it for you.  You can check out our other reviews at

Little Thinker Adventures Product Review

WOW!  Get a 25% DISCOUNT on Little Thinker Adventures! 

The coupon code is “homeschool”


When was the last time your kids (ages 4 – 10) were able to let their imagination run free – free to go to Outer Space or the Circus, free to travel through time, to see Dinosaurs up close, or the action of the Old Wild West?

Little Thinkers audio stories encourage your kids’ imaginations to do just this – to run free.  That’s because Little Thinkers uses a combination of dramatic storytelling, and suggestions for picture drawing, that tap into your child’s imagination.   Plus, Little Thinkers helps your child develop better listening skills.  That’s a plus!  🙂

You can check out the video below for more detail. 


And you can listen to snippets of various MP3s at the bottom of this page.

This is a WONDERFUL product!  You may remember it from your childhood.


Little Thinker Adventures Product Review – What do I LOVE about this product?

  • My kids really enjoy these CDs!  They love the stories, Miss Nancy, and the pictures they draw.  My refrigerator is running out of exhibit space!
  • There’s a wide range of subjects/stories.  There’s something for everyone! My daughter and son like ALL of them, but they definitely have their favorites.

  • They’re educational (the sun is a great big fiery ball).
  • The stories are totally G rated.  No one in the stories gets hurt or injured. The Little Thinker and Nancy (the narrator) always get home safely.
  • The product encourages creativity – now, that’s a plus!
  • As mentioned previously, the stories encourage active listening – wowza!
  • And they encourage activity in general.  They’re certainly interactive.
  • The stories are very descriptive.
  • And dramatic.
  • Music is an integral part of each and every story, which I really like.
  • The sound effects are fun.
  • Kids have an option of what they want to draw.  They aren’t told what to draw.
  • And kids have enough time to draw whatever they want.
  • You can purchase individually or as an entire set (with a discount).  I like options, don’t you?
  • You can purchase as MP3s or CDs.  Again, I appreciate options.
  • The company offers cute carrying cases – the one we have is a soccer ball.  It’s great for in-car use.
  • You can use these any time – even when you’re on the go.  We do a lot on the go – I bet you do too.

In Conclusion

I’ve already mentioned it – but it’s worth mentioning again – this is a really WONDERFUL product!

Again – Get a 25% DISCOUNT on Little Thinker Adventures! 

Use coupon code is “homeschool”


Did you like our Little  Thinker Adventures Product Review? We really enjoyed writing it for you. You can check out our other reviews at

Our Reading Eggs Product Review

Reading Eggs offers a variety of online, research-based, interactive, one-on-one, learn-to-read programs for kids 2-13 years of age. These programs (see below) include 120 lessons, thousands of interactive activities, motivating rewards, songs, and more.

Reading Eggs makes reading fun!

Using the five essential keys to reading success, Reading Eggs focuses on a core curriculum of phonics and phonemic awareness, sight words, vocabulary, comprehension, and reading for meaning.

In case you’re wondering, the five essential keys to reading success include the following

  • Phonemic awareness – children learn the necessary listening skills to become aware that speech is made up of sounds and that these sounds make words, syllables and phonemes.
  • Phonics – each letter of the alphabet is introduced in its own lesson with a focus on reinforcing letter-sound relationships and highlighting the alphabetic principle.
  • Fluency – children develop the rapid word recognition skills essential for reading fluency, including learning to instantly recall crucial sight words that make up 50% of elementary level books.
  • Vocabulary – new words are introduced with visual support to provide context and increase word knowledge and retention.
  • Comprehension – reading for meaning is the end goal of Reading Eggs. The program includes over 2,000 e-books, each with their own comprehension quiz.

Check out a video here

You can try a free sample lesson here.

AND you can register to start a FREE trial.

 Upon signing up, your child should take the free reading placement test that determines where your child should start in the program.  This pre-test is VERY helpful.

More on the Reading Eggs learn-to-read process

Kids learn essential reading skills. Children complete animated online lessons where they learn essential reading and phonics skills. The variety of activities within each lesson provides the repetition necessary for the skills to become part of the child’s long term memory. And children can repeat the online lessons as many times as they need to reinforce key learning concepts

Read books online. Children gain confidence by reading online books that only contain words they have already studied in the program. There are over 2,000 leveled books in the Reading Eggs program.

Earn rewards. Children earn golden eggs as rewards for the progress they make. They can use these eggs to buy fun reward games and items for their avatar or online house. Children can also earn certificates that can be printed out.

Complete quizzes. After 10 lessons, children complete a quiz. This provides you with a report of what your child is learning.

Why is Reading Eggs a good fit for homeschoolers?

  • 91% of homeschool parents using Reading Eggs have seen a noticeable improvement in their child’s reading skills.  That’s a pretty amazing number.
  • Reading Eggs was developed by a team of elementary educators with 30+ years teaching experience.  You can trust it.  You can feel comfortable using it in your home.
  • You don’t have to guess what your child needs to learn. The program starts with a reading pre-test – and the program places your child automatically, depending on the results.
  • Once placed, your child follows the Reading Eggs “map” of lessons – so your child is learning everything in the correct order – and not missing a thing.

Here are the test results for my kids, ages 4 and 7.  Lynn, my 4-year-old knows her letters, but can’t read many words yet.

My son James is 7 and reads pretty well.

As a result of his pre-test, this is James’ program.

Notice his avatar – he was able to personalize it.  He chose a robot theme – while my daughter chose a fish-like theme.

  • There is a Reading Eggspress homeschool literacy program. Key features include:
    • My Lessons – over 200 comprehension lessons which cover five broad levels equivalent to school grades 1 to 6. Learn more about My Lessons.
    • The Stadium – your child can compete against students from around the world or against the computer with four contests that tests skills in spelling, vocabulary, usage, and grammar.
    • English Skills – focuses on common spelling rules, generalizations, and strategies using a combination of teaching videos, engaging online activities and games, with printable worksheets and assessment tests. Learn more about English Skills.
    • The Library – home to over 2,000 e-books, each with their own comprehension quiz.
    • Other homeschool parents really like Reading Eggs.
  • The lessons and activities are carefully paced to ensure your child makes progress.
  • There are assessment tests at the end of each map (a set of lessons) to ensure children have retained what they have learned in the lessons.
  • Homeschool parents have access to hundreds of full-color activity sheets that correspond with the lessons in the program, printable certificates, and more.
  • A comprehensive dashboard details your child’s progress through the program, including how many lessons they have completed, books they have read, their estimated reading age, and what score they achieved on each end-of-map quiz.

FYI – Here is what we did today.

Lynn practiced the letter M today – little m and capital M.

And here are some of the extra worksheets that go along with the letter m – and there are more on this link.  I like that I can print these out.

James practiced all kinds of things today!

Our Reading Eggs Product Review – What do I like about Reading Eggs?

  • It works!
  • The quantity of resources!  There are hundreds of online reading lessons and thousands of e-books in the Reading Eggs library (pictured below).

  • Children love it – at least mine do!  They like the games, songs, golden eggs and other rewards.
  • The online reading lessons are easy to follow and they are self-paced.
  • The program is completely interactive.
  • There’s lots of repetition (in a good way).
  • The audio is very good.
  • The graphics are cute and very colorful.  I really like the graphics.
  • When children start the program, they complete a placement quiz to ensure they are starting at the correct reading level.
  • After that, they are given a program (map) of how to proceed, and everything is automatic.
  • I really like this progression.  My kids are learning what they should – and in the right order.
  • Parents can access detailed progress reports to see how their kids are doing.
  • Also available to parents – hundreds of downloadable activity sheets that correspond with the lessons in the program.  I included links to the letter M sheets previously.
  • Extras!  I’m a sucker for coordinating puppets!
  • A free trial.  And a money-back guarantee.  I appreciate a free trial that’s two weeks in length – so I can really, truly try a product out.  And when a company backs their product with a money-back guarantee, that tells me they believe in and stand by their product.
  • MATHSEEDS!  When you purchase Reading Eggs, you get access to their math program too!  Woo Hoo!
  • Mathseeds teaches kids aged 3-9 math and problem solving skills. As with Reading Eggs, Mathseeds combines highly structured lessons with fun motivational elements that keep kids engaged and enthused about learning.

  • Good customer service – follow up e-mails, etc.

In conclusion

We really love Reading Eggs! 🙂


Did you like our Reading Eggs product review? We really enjoyed writing it for you. You can check out our other reviews at

Highlights Product Review

Did you grow up on Highlights?  For over 70 years the company has been providing high-quality, developmentally appropriate magazines and more – that engage kids’ brains and imaginations. In fact, their motto is Fun with a Purpose®.

For this review, I received Highlights products that are perfect for young kids pre-school – 2nd grade.  All of the products are educational and of high quality, and all work well in a homeschool setting.


Highlights My First Write-On Wipe-Off Board Books (for kids 3-6)

In these books, Highlights combines their Hidden Pictures® puzzles with number, letter and word activities to help kids develop essential math and writing skills.

The dry-erase, wipe-clean pages encourage kids to practice writing and solving puzzles over and over again, because after all, practice makes perfect.  🙂

The books are made of heavy board stock, each book is approx. 8.5″ X 11″ and they are the perfect size for young hands. The board book pages are so sturdy, kids can play on them anywhere, without needing a desk.  And they come with their own marker.

There are three different selections in the write-on wipe-off board book series.  They include My First Hidden Pictures, My First 123, and My First ABCEach of the three selections is 28 pages in length. 

My First Hidden Pictures

This book contains pre-school friendly Hidden Pictures® puzzles, words to trace, drawing and counting activities, dot-to-dots and more.

See page pics below.  Cute, right!?!

My First ABC 123 and My First 123

So, what’s the best way to get kids to practice writing numbers and letters? By making it fun.  My First ABC and My First 123 activity books do just that. Simple Hidden Pictures® scenes, matching games, mazes and more combine with alphabet and counting activities to make the books entertaining and educational.

I’ve included pics of both books below.

Highlights Product Review – What do I like about these three books?

  • I like the physical qualities of the books – the size, the thick board pages, the fact that the entire book is wipe-able (not just the cover – pages too), that there’s a compartment for the marker and more.  I LOVE the whole wipe-on/wipe-off concept for learning.
  • I like the content of the books – especially the puzzles and the colorful pictures.  Plus, the activities in the books are educational, and they build fine-motor skills.
  • The books teach kids that puzzles/brain teasers are fun.  I like this because I think brain teasers are incredibly educational.
  • I LOVE that my kids enjoy the books and learn while also having fun.
  • These are really wonderful books for young kids just learning about puzzles, numbers and letters.


Highlights Write-On Wipe-Off Fun to Learn Activity Books (for kids 3-6)

These books are also for kids ages 3-6, but in my opinion, are the next step after the board books.  Whereas my four year old likes the board books, my six year old prefers these books.

As with the board books, kids can write, draw, and complete puzzles  (they come with a marker) – so they can practice essential skills – over and over again.  The pages are thinner and taller than the board books, and these books have a hidden wire spiral binding that lets the books lay flat.  Each book is approx. 8″ X 11″ inches and has 56 pages.

There are three different activity books to choose from: Highlights Write-On Wipe-Off Let’s Trace, Write-On Wipe-Off Let’s Write Letters and Highlights Wipe-Off Let’s Write Words.

Let’s Trace

This write-on wipe-off book makes mastering the fine motor skills of pen control a fun activity for young children. The thick, dotted lines and wide paths are simple to trace and follow, and pre-schoolers can progress from tracing straight lines to tracing simple geometric shapes.

Very cute, don’t you agree?

Let’s Write Letters

Each write-on wipe-off page uses colorful, imaginative puzzles, mazes, and more to help pre-schoolers learn the alphabet.  Kids have an opportunity to identify letters, trace existing letters, write letters from scratch, and add letters to finish a sentence.

 See the pics below.

Let’s Write Words

This activity book helps kids learn sight words.  Each 2-page spread has a puzzle on one side and related words to copy on the other.  I really like this 2-page layout.

Again, you can check out the pics below.

Highlights Product Review – What do I like about these books?

  • I like the physical qualities of the books – the cover and the pages are wipe-able, the books lay flat when they’re open so they’re easy for young kids to work on, the marker fits nicely in the binder, and more.
  • I like the content of the books.  They contain a variety of puzzles (Hidden Pictures® scenes, matching, mazes, etc.), that make it fun to learn to write and read sight words.
  • I like the interactive qualities of the books.  As with the board books, kids can write, draw, and puzzle all over the books – and they can keep practicing essential skills – over and over again. As mentioned previously, I LOVE the whole wipe-on/wipe-off concept for learning.
  • The books help build writing confidence as well as fine-motor skills.
  • Each book has an All About Me page which I appreciate.  I want my kids to have ownership of their work.
  • There are no start and finish pages to the books – kids can start anywhere/select activities that interest them the most.
  • I LOVE that my kids enjoy the books and learn while also having fun.


Highlights Big Fun Workbooks

These books have the appearance of traditional workbooks. Each is approx. 8.5″ x 11″ and 256 pages in length. Although they look like traditional workbooks, they are chock full of imaginative puzzling, humor, and charming illustrations that engage children and help them build academic confidence. Each book  includes a certificate of completion at the end, as well as simple tips to help parents guide their children through the activities.

There are four different workbooks for ages pre-k through 2nd grade (3-8 years old). The four workbooks include: Big Fun Preschool Workbook, Big Fun Kindergarten Workbook, Big Fun First Grade Workbook, and Big Fun Second Grade Workbook.

Big Fun Preschool Workbook

Big Fun Preschool Workbook helps kids practice essential skills for academic/homeschool readiness and success.

Mazes, matching games, dot-to-dots, scavenger hunts, find-the-differences and Hidden Pictures® puzzle activities make it fun for preschoolers to practice the following skills:

  • ABCs
  • Sight words
  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Numbers
  • Patterns
  • Sorting
  • Opposites
  • Math concepts
  • Sequencing
  • And more

Pictures follow:

Big Fun Kindergarten Workbook

Matching games, find-the-differences, scavenger hunts, That’s Silly scenes and Hidden Pictures® puzzle activities let kindergarten-aged kids practice the following academic skills:

  • Alphabet
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Sight words
  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Numbers
  • Patterns
  • Sorting
  • Opposites
  • Math concepts
  • Sequencing
  • Comparing
  • And more

Big Fun First Grade Workbook

This workbook includes essential skills practice – along with puzzle play, to help kids grow into confident learners. With this workbook, kids practice:

  • ABCs
  • Word recognition
  • Digraphs and consonant blends
  • Homophones
  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Numbers
  • Addition and subtraction
  • Sequencing
  • Beginning science
  • And more

Big Fun Second Grade Workbook

The Big Fun Second Grade Workbook helps kids learn in a way that’s fun, by blending lessons with puzzles. Grade-appropriate exercises are incorporated into Hidden Pictures® scenes and other enjoyable activities  Lessons include:

  • Cursive writing
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading
  • Addition and subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Map skills
  • And more

Highlights Product Review – What do I like about these workbooks?

  • The pure size of the workbooks – 256 pages – that’s a lot of academic practice/learning!
  • The workbooks help kids recognize vowels and consonants, learn sight words, build their vocabulary, and increase their reading and writing skills.
  • The workbooks introduce early math and science concepts, which I really appreciate.
  • In addition to academics, the workbooks build concentration, attention to detail, and critical thinking skills.  What a bonus, right!?!
  • The combination of activities, puzzles, and skills practice helps kids feel academically confident.
  • Answers are included.
  • Wipe-able covers (important in my house).
  • I appreciate the Extend the Learning helpful tips at the back of the books.
  • And more. 🙂


Highlights Learn On The Go Practice Pads

This product offers a travel-friendly activity pad where kids can learn the alphabet, numbers and handwriting skills anywhere, anytime.  There are 4 pad options. The pads include Tracing and Colors and Shapes (pre-school), and Writing Numbers and Writing Letters (kindergarten). Each pad is 6″ x 9″ and contains 64 pages.


Tracing helps kids ages 3-6 develop fine motor skills and pen control through tracing prompts, Hidden Pictures® puzzles, mazes, and more, all in a travel-friendly activity pad format.

Colors and Shapes

Colors and Shapes offers a unique blend of shape-tracing and color-identification activities with age-appropriate puzzles that also build fine-motor skills.

Learning Numbers

This pad helps kids ages 3-6 with number recognition through tracing prompts, Hidden Pictures® puzzles, counting activities, etc.

Writing Letters

Writing Letters offers kids ages 3-6 a unique blend of alphabet activities with age-appropriate puzzles that increase writing confidence and build fine-mot0r skills.

Highlights Product Review – SO, what do I LOVE about these products?

  • They’re Highlights – a name I loved as a child, and trust as an adult.
  • Colorful illustrations and achievable puzzles make learning loads of fun.
  • My kids and I love the colorful pictures and the variety of puzzles.
  • I like the easy-to-go portability – these are great for the car.

And FYI – here is a link to all the Highlights products


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READ Learning Educational Services Product Review

READ Learning Educational Services, LLC is an educational service company that offers research-based reading, spelling and writing curriculum for individuals ages 6-adult.  These resources are ideal for people with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other learning disabilities.

The company’s Silver Moon Spelling Rules program is of special interest.  The program facilitates the mastery of American English spelling rules and gives students the knowledge necessary to improve their spelling skills – which in turn, benefits their reading and writing abilities.  What a wonderful/tremendous side effect!

The Silver Moon Spelling Rules program (Sets 1 and 2) are multi-sensory, explicit, systematic, cumulative, and mastery-based – and they are Orton Gillingham inspired. Silver Moon resources are intended for one-on-one use or for use in a small group.

See the video below

Materials that make up the program

To use this program, you need the 1). Silver Moon Instructional Manual, 2). one small set of spelling rule cards for each of your students – both my son and my daughter are doing this program, so we have two sets of student cards, and 3). one large set of instructor spelling rule cards. You can purchase all three in a bundle and buy additional sets of cards as needed.

The Instructional Manual

The instruction manual contains lesson plans, learning targets, teacher talk (the manual actually tells you what to say), guided instruction with real words and make-believe words (make-believe words are great for learning spelling rules), special notes and tips and tricks, independent practice, reproducible student pages, pre and post-tests, extension activities, a reference section, a certificate of completion for your student, and more. It is spiral bound and has a wipe-able cover.  I really like this book.

The Student Cards

The student cards are designed to resemble direct instruction flashcards. That’s because flashcards provide a research-based, systematic, and effective way of teaching.

Set 1 – Silver Moon Spelling Rules Set 1 consists of 20 American English spelling rules and 1 bonus reading rule.  Each rule is accompanied by a direct-instruction, multi-sensory and cumulative spelling lesson.

Each lesson builds off previously mastered lessons and each lesson progresses with more complex words, concepts and rules.  Rules 1-6 contain only one-syllable words for spelling practice, and all of the words are closed syllables whereas Rules 7-17 contain two-syllable words for spelling practice and contain both closed and open syllables.  Rules 18-21 contain up to three-syllable words, with open and closed syllables.

Set 2 – Set 2 consists of 24 American English spelling rules.  Each rule is accompanied by a direct-instruction, multi-sensory spelling lesson.

Each lesson builds off previously mastered lessons and each lesson progresses with more complex words, concepts and rules. Whereas Set 1 students learn how to identify closed syllables and open syllables as part of the spelling process, in Set 2 kids are introduced to two new syllable types – students learn how to identify silent E syllables and unit syllables.

For both sets, make sure you request the accompanying free resources from the website. These include a complementary keyword sound chart, syllable division guides, word tables, and a syllable types guide.  Some of the pages follow.

With both sets 1 and 2, students earn the rule card after showing mastery of the rule.  My kids love collecting the cards and get more excited and motivated with each card they earn.  My daughter keeps her cards on a metal binder ring and my son keeps his in a folder with plastic sheet protectors.  They use the cards as reference tools as needed – and honestly, they just like looking at/admiring the cards they’ve earned.

The Instructor’s Cards

The teacher cards are larger versions (6 x 8.5 inches ) of the student cards. The cards help you teach the Silver Moon Spelling Rules explicitly and sequentially.

Instructor’s cards can be used independent of the instructor’s manual. The rules begin with simple closed syllable rules and move up to multi-syllable rules that include open and closed syllables with schwa spelling rules.

Screenshots from Silver Moon Spelling Rules, Set 1

    Screenshots from Silver Moon Spelling Rules, Set 2

Lesson Sequence

The sequence of lessons follow a “model, lead, test” approach and it’s recommended that you introduce one spelling rule each week.  This, of course, is a theoretical recommendation and pacing of instruction needs to be considered on a case to case basis.  Some families may progress this quickly, but some may not. Choose the pace that works best for your child.

  • Review previously taught rules and independent practice pages – Step 1
  • Clearly state lesson goals – Step 2
  • Model the new spelling rule – Step 3
  • Guided practice – spell real words – Step 4
  • Guided practice – spell nonsense words – Step 5
  • Test – Independent Practice page – Step 6
  • Extension activities – application to reading lessons – Step 7

You use the post-test after completing each of the three parts in the manuals to determine if your kids have mastered the material. If mastery hasn’t been reached with a 90% accuracy rate, you should re-teach the rule by repeating steps 3-5.

What I like about these products

  • When you build an understanding of spelling rules (and your kids really get it), they don’t need to memorize how to spell words – they just know how to do it
  • And when kids understand how to spell, it benefits their reading and writing ability, and promotes independence and self-confidence.  What a wonderful side effect 🙂
  • The products are research-based, which I truly appreciate
  • I also appreciate that the products provides mastery-based learning
  • I like that the lessons are multi-sensory – they work well for different learning styles (my kids learn differently – I bet yours do too).
  • The materials are Orton Gillingham influenced
  • The resources are easy to use (the scripted lessons are a breeze).  Also, the sequence of lessons follows a “model, lead, test” approach which is easy to follow
  • It’s a fun program. The lessons keep students actively engaged. The graphics are cute. Plus, my kids like collecting mastered cards and making up nonsense words
  • Extension activities are included. You can ask your child to be a Word Detective or a Story Builder, using words that follow the rule being studied (Sets 1 and 2). In Set 2 you can add Phrase or Sentence Dictation, Word Sorting and Concept Cluster assignments.
  • There are FREE, downloadable resources.  I’m a fan of free resources, aren’t you?  🙂
  • Also, there is a three Rule Match game that corresponds to the three parts of instruction in Set 1.  FYI – my kiddos LOVE this game. 🙂  See pics below.

You can order online or the business number for order processing is:  262-226-9284


In addition to the Spelling Rules product, READ Learning Educational Services, LLC offers remote/online instruction in reading, spelling, writing, and executive functioning skills.  Online instruction is one-on-one with a licensed and OG trained teacher.  Their executive functioning skills course is a 2 month course designed for ages 5th grade and up.

We’re fans of  READ Learning Educational Services, LLC – and we think you will be too!


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AceReader Product Review – Family Edition

Are you familiar with AceReader?  They’re a company that improves silent reading skill, speed reading, reading comprehension and fluency for all ages, kids Grade 3 – adult.  How do they do this?  They have a proprietary and patented blend of pacing/vision training techniques where they actually train the eyes and brain to process more information, to do so faster, and with better reading comprehension.  Training activities include timed reading comprehension tests, eye pacing drills, eye exercise games, fun eye/brain games, vocabulary exercises, memory exercises and SAT/ACT prep exercises. This product is a GREAT Homeschool Reading Software.

And while you learn to read better and faster (and potentially become a speed reader), you learn about American History, Earth & Space Science, Famous People, Fun Facts and General Knowledge. So – double bonus!  🙂  This content is “leveled” into 13 different text complexities, so it’s ideal for readers of all ages.

We recommend you spend 15 minutes with the program, going through 5 Course Mode activities, three times per week. It takes about a month to get through one course level if you use the program three times per week for 15 minutes/each training session.

—- Want 10% off your order? You can use this AceReader Coupon Code: HOWTOHS718 at checkout! Just go to the AceReader website. —-

AceReader is not a “how to read program”, but instead a “how to read better program”.

Students go from reading word-by-word to reading chunks (groups) of words at a time, which ultimately leads to a more fluency.

Your ability to read at higher speeds with good reading comprehension can dramatically affect your ability to succeed in school and in your career. Efficient reading leads to efficient learning. In today’s information world there is no skill that is more important. That’s why this is such a great Homeschool Reading Software.

I reviewed the AceReader Family Edition – This Homeschool Reading Software is ideal for homeschool families who want to improve their reading skills or who like the concept of speed reading.

—- Want 10% off your order? You can use this AceReader Coupon Code: HOWTOHS718 at checkout! Just go to the AceReader website. —-

Check out the Family Edition video below.

The Family Edition of AceReader assesses, improves and monitors reading speed, fluency and reading comprehension for your entire family (2-8 people).  It includes a wide variety of leveled and themed reading comprehension tests, eye pacing drills and fun eye exercise games.

AceReader Family Edition Product Review – What I like about Ace Reader

  • It works! Results vary, but most students improve at least 20 – 40% in their reading speed while maintaining 75% or better reading comprehension. That amount of improvement shaves off 10 to 20 minutes per hour of reading. Wow!
  • The program helps break bad reading habits – your children will learn to minimize subvocalization (pronouncing each word in their mind as they read) and regression (re-reading) – two processes that lead to inefficient reading.
  • The program includes interesting leveled and themed content with over 1,000 reading comprehension tests. Themes include: General, American History, Earth & Space Science, Famous People, Fun Facts and SAT/ACT Prep. It’s a nice extra that you become smarter while becoming a more efficient reader.  🙂
  • And, 13 levels of text make it ideal for all ages.
  • Plus, AceReader includes an advanced eReader used for training that supports many display modes. It comes complete with a wide variety of eBooks and the ability to add to your own library.

—- Want 10% off your order? You can use this AceReader Coupon Code: HOWTOHS718 at checkout! Just go to the AceReader website. —-

AceReader Family Edition Product Review – MORE Things I like about Ace Reader

  • Before you start, the company offers a free speed/comprehension test. My son took the test numerous times and scored progressively higher on each one.  So, I recommend taking three and averaging the scores.
  • Parent accounts let you adjust options for each child and allow you to monitor your kids’ progress.

  • The price – it’s certainly affordable ($59-$99/year depending on the number of users).
  • The company has been around for about 20 years and has a BBB rating of  A+.
  • AceReader is used by K-12 schools, universities, US Air Force Academy, US Naval Academy, West Point, and more.
  • A money back guarantee – if within 30 days of using AceReader you do not feel 100% satisfied with your purchase, you can get a full refund.

BTW – If you want to use the program for yourself or if only one child will be using the program, you can use the “Personal Edition” rather than the Family Edition.  No setup required. You can just log on and start using the program immediately.

—- Want 10% off your order? You can use this AceReader Coupon Code: HOWTOHS718 at checkout! Just go to the AceReader website. —-

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My Letters alive Student Journals Product Review

My Letters alive Student Journals Product Review 

I’m SO excited to tell you about and to share my review of My Letters alive Student Journals! Why?  Because I LOVE the products and technology that Alive Studios offers.

As in LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!  (And your kiddos will too!)

So, what exactly does the company do? provides augmented reality resources – a “mind-boggling new technology for teaching and learning”.

Mind-boggling?  Really?  

YES.  🙂

The journals are for kids preK- Grade 3,  and for ELL and special needs students.

And since seeing is believing, take a look at the “mind-boggling” video on the company’s home page – 

I reviewed the My Letters alive Student Journals

If your little one is lacking engagement, this will blow her mind!

My Letters alive Student Journals, along with the FREE, accompanying app, uses  the “mind-boggling” technology, to make learning letters, letter sounds and proper letter formation a FUN experience!

I used to think teaching the ABCs was boring – but not anymore!


Two journals are available – a preK and a Kindergarten journal

My Letters alive Student Journals help your child learn letters by:

  • Introducing/reinforcing letters and letter sounds.
  • Teaching proper letter formation.
  • Teaching a little science a long the way (Did you know that a narwhal whale has a ten foot tooth/tusk? See photo below).
  • Monitoring progress with a sticker badge set.
  • Being entertaining – it’s fun to see the graphics move, it’s fun to sing along with the the Zoo Crew Alphabet music video, and who doesn’t want to take a photo with the 3D animals? (see pic below)

Take photos with the animals and
share with friends and family!

Your kiddo will love the challenges and activities in this Journal, but when they see it come to life in 3D, you might get Teacher of the Year! Haha!

Here’s a video specifically about My Letters alive Student Journals –

BTW – the journal is a complement to the company’s reading program Letters alive Plus, but can be used as a stand alone resource or with other learn-to-read resources you may be using.

What do I like – no- what do I LOVE about My Letters alive Student Journals?

  • With your smartphone or mobile tablet, you can open a whole new world for your early reader.
  • That’s because this isn’t a typical software program where kids stare at a screen and peck on the keyboard.  This is SO MUCH more!  It’s a cross-curricular learning solution that utilizes multiple learning modalities.  Wow!
  • Because of this, children hear, see, touch, and speak – all of which increases engagement and retention.
  • And because of this, the product works well for all different learning styles. Yah!
  • The app is easy to download and use.
  • There are numerous learning opportunities with the app.  Kids can hear the animal’s name, hear the animal’s sound, hear the letter pronounced, and trace the lower case and upper case letter.
  • And, I like the journal.  It has a wipe-able cover.  That’s important in my house.
  • Plus, the child has ownership of the journal – she prints her name right on the front – and there is a badge system right in the journal.  I think ownership is really important.
  • In the preK journal, kids can color the animal and practice writing the lower and upper case letters.
  • In the kindergarten journal, for each letter, kids can do multiple tasks to learn the letter – they can color the animal, draw things that are found in the animal’s habitat, write the letter in the journal,  and draw other items that start with the letter.  So, it’s more than just sounding out the letter and memorizing it.  Additional learning  is taking place – and it’s fun learning (I’ve found that fun learning seems to stick better than rote learning).  The kindergarten – Grade 3 journal contains more structure, printed activities, and opportunities for learning – but both are GREAT.
  • The sticker badges give you a fun and easy way to measure progress for your child.  My child gets a kick out of adhering a new sticker to her chart (again, this promotes ownership, which I’m a fan of).
  • This product promotes family engagement (my kids and I have fun with the journal and app).
  • The cost!  All this for under $10!!  WOWZA!!

Here are some pics of the journal –

Here are some pics from the app (letter N) –

And here are some screen shots from the alphabet song (the animals move in the song, but of course, these are still shots –

Because I love this product so much, I’m dying to try other products (math especially). 


Here is a complete listing of products

You can purchase journals here –  



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