Book review Wordsmithy

When I was asked by Timberdoodle to do a review for  “ WORDSMITHY” I did not expect the little jewel I would indeed, receive.

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I had no idea what this book would really contain and honestly,  I expected a dry, boring manual on how to write books and was unsure how this would help us in our homeschool journey at all.  Since the author also has a religious background I was also wondering what role it would play in his suggestions.  After reading it, I am happy to share that this book is everything but boring and I recommend it for all parts of life and  for all types of people, young and old, secular or religious. In fact I believe we all can walk away with some great advise from this book.  So yeah, I was quite surprised to find myself reading through all the chapters from front to back in one evening !

The book starts with 7 strong tips on what you can do, how to live your life if you truly aspire to become a real writer. In each chapter afterwards the author Douglas Wilson, goes into details on how to accomplish those ideas. The tips he mentions are however very hands-on and true to life. In fact many of these I did not expect to find in this little book at all. The whole book is written in a beautiful, easy to understand and often even funny way. I could see that even teenagers or even well advanced ” tweens ” could already read this book and take away some wonderful advise… not only about writing but also about life in general…

 

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Suggestions like  ” get to know something about the world “, ” get out there, meet people, view sunsets, smell and see different parts of the world and collect real life experiences “, were in fact big reminders why we even homeschool and I loved finding it in this book.

While this book indeed does mention a lot of hands-on learning it also reminds us on the importance of books. And not only books that we read for pleasure but on occasion also books that inspire us to be better and greater writers. In fact all kinds and sorts of books. From dictionaries to biographies, novels to children and picture books and poems and writers manuals just like this one. Read from A-Z and then start over once more. Read it all !  And then, write things that stick out to you DOWN ! Keep a journal for all kinds of writing prompts and ideas.

Learn to quote people and use their wonderful words in your day-to-day talk and then writings and look up all the great recommendations of other books that Wilson points to at the end of each chapter.

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I loved reading the take-aways at the end of each chapter and my own personally take away from this book is, that this book truly deserves to be in every homeschool household. If you do not think your kids are ready to read it on their own their own quite yet, just start reading it for yourself and be an early facilitator and show your children ways on how they can improve their writing !

Timberdoodle has always surprised me in the last few years of the creative choices and options that they have put into their curriculum boxes. Go check it out !

 

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Back in the game

Well hello there. It has been a while that I have written a true update/ blog post. Well summer has been incredibly busy. Trying to make new friends, start and finish a renovation, start a new business, create homeschool groups, explore Oregon and stay in touch with old friends. It really has been a lot but somewhere in the middle between all of it I think we are finding our flow once again.  There are many crazy and uncertain facts and things happening right now but we are trying to make the best of it….

On Monday we officially started our ” new homeschool year “. The little one started  ” MBTP 7-9 and my oldest is still deep in 9-11 with MBTP,  so theoretically 2nd grade and 5th grade. After a few weeks trying to speed things up, worrying that she would be behind.. i decided to just keep going in our ( her ) pace… The curriculum is build in an awesome way, that we really are not behind. It is so deep in knowledge and created for gifted kids, that I am not worried about starting her in a few months… ( she just turned 10). Homeschooling gives us these freedoms to make things work for us, and I have finally reached that point to use these advantages for us ALL THE WAY !!! The rest I just shrug off and I will not have  silly discussions about these kinds of things anymore…

The beauties of homeschooling… the freedom..  Something I would never ever let go off again. Not many people understand it that have not fully homeschooled. It is one thing I would never want to give up again ! So really, I just wanted to wish everyone a happy new start into the new school year and hope everyone feels refreshed, encouraged and ready to encourage those little minds to explore, play, love and learn !!  Happy Homeschooling !

 

 

Story of the world Vol. 2 Chapter 16 + 17

We are finally back in the swing of things and working with more of our curricula again. Some times it is good to take a little break just to discover how much you have even missed something. History was one of those things. We really love history and the girls have started begging me to start with Story of the world again. We had a very successful year with Volume 1 and Volume 2 we had started with, but with the move and everything it was just too much at times. We really love the activity book activity book that works along with SOTW and now that we are all back into it, it has been fun continuing our journey through history.
In Vol.2 you will discover the middle ages with your kids. Knights, Samurai’s, the crusades and so much more. There are endless extra sources and activities for most of these chapters and it has been hard just to pick a few here and there.

Here are just some fun things we have done recently.

One very fun activity, my younger one loved it especailly, was to build a stone castle out of rice krispies. This was one of those that might look better on pinterest lol. But we really had tons of fun building it, and it turnt out to be a delicious treat afterwards.

 

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For this subject you won’t have trouble finding good books. There are so many to choose from. One that was suggested from SOTW was the three Samurai cats. Unfortunately it seems to be out of print, but you might be able to find it at the library also ( like me) or you might find it used. It really was a good fit for the samurai topic in chapter 17.

 

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Another favorite book, and a favorite series I would really like to introduce (it really deserves it’s on post, that i will hopefully get together soon) is You wouldn’t want to be a crusader. This series is really amazing and so much fun to read. There are so many good ones to choose from ,some are even part of many curricula, including MBTP

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We also enjoyed the story’s of saint george and some of these other books above. Really there are tons of materials and you could probably spent 2 years studying it with the kids easily, afterall most kids love knights and pricesses 😀 It also reminded us again of our wonderful time we had in Germany with our family. I am hoping things will somehow work out and we can visit again soon and explore more of Germany and more of history. Nothing beats learning by traveling ❤

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Math Online: Prodigy Game

Earlier this week I discovered a new online math game for the kids. It has been a while that I stumbled across something new, because we have been so busy trying to fall back into schedule etc. Most of you probably even know it already 😉

Prodigy Game

But I must say I have been really impressed and for now we are just playing the free version. Both kids have been hooked since the first time they played and have asked to play it every time they got computer time. We try to limit computer games a little bit, some days they play none at all and others they get a few hours here and there throughout the day. My oldest really does not need much limiting, but our youngest gets very obsessed with it some days. I was very surprised when she asked for “Prodigy” over any of her other fun, little, silly games.

I don’t know all the features of the website yet. But so far I have been able to adjust their grade levels and even assign special assignments of specific math concepts. They both completed the placement test and my youngest, which is doing HORIZON GRADE 1 tested way above and my oldest tester right on target.  Both of them have mastered complete new concepts in a just a few days of playing it !

I am really playing with the idea of signing up for a year if they keep up playing it with so much enthusiasm and throwing our workbooks out the window 😉 Well at least every now and then.

Check it our for yourself if you like 😉

This video is a bit older and I guess they recently changed the graphics but it still shows the basics. I guess the games has been around for a while after all 😉 ( I am behind as always lol)

Movie time with Moving beyond the page

If you have been following me, or reading about Moving Beyond the Page elsewhere ( the curriculum we primarily use) than you know that it is literature based. Throughout the levels your children get exposed to some amazing literature, a lot of them beautiful classic children’s novels that have stood the test of time.

I am a book lover and so are my children, but we love a well made movie as well.  I have tried to teach my children to always read the actual book first, if there is a movie out already. Often as a little reward they get to watch the movie afterwards, and their excitement and anticipation is so much bigger than with any other movies we just watch. It is exciting to me to hear their opinions, to see if their imagination was similar to what was shown in the movies and if they think the movie did the book justice. For example when my oldest first started reading Harry Potter.  I simply just had to sigh a little and nod in agreement when my daughter realized how much of Harry Potter they just had to cut out from the books to make the movies possibly. I know she loved the movies, and was amazed, but I know the books hold more treasures for her than the movies can ever show.

With MBTP you will come across many books that have been turned into a movie. And in some of the units you will be asked to watch the movie with your children, possibly write a comparison or opinion about the movie itself. I have not seen every one of these, and especially with movies, I google a lot to read some reviews and opinions. If there is some concern I obviously watch the movies before my kids get to see them. Just like with everything else, everyone needs to make their own decision if these movies are appropriate for their child.

 

Level 5-7

  •  How the Grinch stole Christmas

Level 6-8

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 2014
  • Pecos Bill

Level 7-9

  • Charlotte’s Web
  • The Whipping Boy
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall



Level 8-10

  • The sign of the beaver
  • Little house in the big woods ( TV show)
  • The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe
  • The BFG
  • Ben and Me
  • Holes
  • Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH
  • Able’s Island ( short cartoon)

Old cartoon, might not be available anymore for purchase.

Level 9-11

  • Tall tales
  • My side of the Mountain
  • The Cay
  • Lucy Whipple
  • A wrinkle in Time ( in production)

Some info about the older movie here.

Some info about the older movie here. (Lucy Whipple )

 

Exciting news about the new movie here.

Level 10-12


  • The Giver
  • Tuck Everlasting
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry

Info about the movie from 1978 here, I could not find it on amazon for purchase but you might get lucky on YouTube.

Level 11-13

  • The Pearl (relatively bad reviews on this one, unfortunately )
  • The Hobbit
  • The Little Prince ( coming out 2016)

Level 12-14

  • Animal Farm
  • Watership Down
  • The Book thief
  • The adventures of Huckleberry Finn


DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more or less when buying a product through my link, but you will help us to continue our wonderful journey of homeschooling, which we thank you for !

Questions and answers for using Moving beyond the page

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We have been using MBTP for quite some time now ( we did all of of 5-7, working on 6-8, some of 7-9, all of 8-10, and working on 9-11 with my oldest) and I often find myself answering a lot of questions and helping people with choosing if the curriculum is right for them. In the end I tell most people, unless you try it, you will probably not find out. But there are a few things to consider in making the first steps of figuring out if the curriculum is worth considering.  Now is a good time to consider buying a test unit. The spring fling will be happening more than likely in early spring time again and maybe, just maybe you have might up your mind by then if you want to order a whole year set and will be able to take advantage of the 10%. We would greatly appreciate if you order through our blog , it will not cost you anything extra, you are only helping another homeschool family out continuing our adventure of learning.

  • What is a literature based curriculum ?

A literature-based curriculum uses mainly “living books”. Books that are fun, engage your child in a real story instead of a textbook. You might find that you already own a lot of these books, a lot of classics are included in the wonderful selection for each level as well as many fun, historical fiction books.

(Historical fiction tells a story that is set in the past. That setting is usually real and drawn from history, and often contains actual historical persons, but the principal characters tend to be fictional. Writers of stories in this genre, while penning fiction, attempt to capture the manners and social conditions of the persons or time(s) presented in the story, with due attention paid to period detail and fidelity.)
My kids are bookworms and have been independent readers from early on, so this curriculum fits our needs very well and we have truly enjoyed just about every book. After all it is still a box curriculum though. A box curriculum is designed for many, many children all at the same time. It will not suit everybody and just because it is right for us does not mean it will be right for you.

You can find more about what  a literature based curriculum is here.

 

  • My child is still a slow reader ? Will this mean this curriculum will be a bad fit for us ?

Not at all. In the younger levels most often you are still encouraged to read the books with your child. Read aloud, talk and answer questions about the book together, simply share time together while learning. This way you also encourage and teach your child to study independently in the later levels, starting 9-11 the curriculum is directly addressed towards the student. Some parents still choose to read aloud during many of the later studies just because it is fun and builds a great connection between you and your children,it works wonderfully too, when you have multiple children doing the same level.

  • The daily lesson plan seems too much ! How can we make this work with all our extra activities ?

Even though Moving beyond the page offers a lesson plan for the whole year level I have talked to many people that just feel overwhelmed by it and have to tweak it. When I first opened the curriculum books, i felt overwhelmed myself and it took me a little while to make it right for us.  I have found that with most “box curriculum” you have to tweak it a little here or there, after all it was ” mass designed ” by someone else for many other people. I now plan once a week, read through the next 5-6 lessons ahead and see what activities seem right for us, and which we might just skip.  I have found that MBTP offers a good variety of different activities in each lesson, but not each one is a must and there is sometimes a bit too much repetition for us.

Then there is another way. You simply do not have to choose the whole years worth. The curriculum works well as a supplemental curriculum, or simply unit studies. You could easily pick and choose a few units ( even let your children pick) and just do those. Remember the beauty of homeschooling is that you can pick and choose. You can make it right for your family. Every one is different so there is never a one fits all solution.

  • Can I do levels with multiple, different aged children ?

Absolutely. Each level has a suggested age range, like 6-8, 8-10 and so on. Most often kids  will fit into the suggested  level. Reading can easily be done together in a group and many activities are enagging and fun for younger kids as well.  Most often if you follow the guided age suggestion and possibly do the placement test you will figure out if it will work .
Also many activities in the lessons have options. You can make it easier or harder. You can have your younger child work on an easier version than your older one, but they will still both have the benefit of learning from each other.

  • I see a lot writing activities , worksheets and worry my child will not enjoy it ?

It all depends on you and how you will use the curriculum. Each lesson has a wide option of activities, some that might just be suggestions or little task for your area, like go outside to the park and find different types of habitats. Another day the activity will encourage you to go to the zoo, or go interview somebody in the community. Then there will be “worksheets” that go  along with the subjects, but they are often different than your average worksheets. They often require a little talk, additional discussion and inspiration to get your child started.  Also you will train your child towards independent research online. Many of these things were a big change for us at the beginning of homeschooling in general  (especially for my child that spend two years in public school) , but over time and a bit of guidance she learnt to work more fluently and independent on her own.

During some units you will come upon some really big activities (go to the Zoo, go to the beach, go to the museum )  that might just require a day of ” vacation”. Often this might not fit into your schedule at all, but it has opened us up to do more ” fun stuff” in general and we try to just make time. Some activities seemed ordinary at first and I thought about skipping them, but then when I thought about it a bit more I found that we so often do not pay attention to the little things and this activity will actually , really let us focus on THAT particular thing we are trying to learn, like going to the zoo and just watch one certain type of animals or even try to arrange a meeting with a zookeeper and have a long discussion.
Back in Texas we went to the Zoo every few months ,going to just see the birds for example seemed “ordinary” but how often do we end up at the zoo, try to do it all and are not able to give each animal its special attention ? How often do you go and really just watch the “hawks” for 30 minutes and try to study just them  ?

Sometimes there will be activities when you  are supposed to literally “interview” people. I am a shy person myself and honestly  often would just rather avoid conversation with strangers. These activities have gotten us out of our little bubble. They have brought us closer to our community and let my children even be in charge. We have not always been able to interview people for every subject suggested of course, but so often once we thought about finding the right person we were surprised who we found that could participate and have great information.  For example, when my little one asked one of our librarians back in Texas what he did in his job, if he enjoyed , what made him become a librarian etc…. She had the biggest and proudest smile on her face and still often talks about this little activity.

When we don’t find a matching person, there are always options. There are many books that describe people with different jobs, cultural backgrounds or experiences. Sometimes we even get lucky and find a great video on YouTube about it.

There are many ways you can make the curriculum flexible and very hands on.

  • My child is still struggling with writing in general. Can we make it work ?

Many studies show that especially for younger children, narrating and dictation are great tools for learning. If your child struggles at the beginning to form her own stories try to come up with ideas on how to make it easier. We use a white board or chalk board and often brain storm. Some activities in the younger levels only require a few words, while others might encourage your child to come up with a whole story. When we struggle with ideas we grab our pencils and colors and just try to make the lesson fun.

 

If you are ever curious about the curriculum, feel free to write me or the company itself, directly. I am only an affiliate with them and do not work  for them and do not necessarily earn much for anything I write about the curriculum, unless you click on the little links and actually order something.  But we have honestly enjoyed most of our time with it and I feel good about sharing our adventure and telling others about the curriculum itself. Everyone is different though and just like homeschooling itself, not everyone will like it. In the end you know your child and family best and can make the decision. I am only another homeschool mom, sharing our time of learning and living. If you are a little more curious about trying it, you can always order a test unit, try it and see if this will work out at all, instead of spending your money on a whole year level !

So long and as always, 

Happy Homeschooling

 

The View from Saturday Level 9 to 11 Concept 1 Unit 2

We just finished the second unit of the 9-11 unit with MBTP  “The view from Saturday”. Most times I quickly research the book before we start a new unit or I just happen to know it ahead of time. There are many great sites out there that give you a good idea what the book is about.
For example https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/the-view-from-saturday is always a great place to start, although I do not always agree with their opinion.

http://www.sparknotes.com/ is another good one but they do not have a wide range of books.

Also http://www.shmoop.com/ might be of help for quick research.

The easiest way to research a book quickly is of course to just read some reviews on Amazon.

A big goal of mine  this year is to read all the books together again or, which works better with the 9-11 level, to read them ahead of time by myself.  A great goal for working together  and also a great addition to my personal reading challenge of at least 50 books for the year.

I must say I was a little confused about the book at first but my confusion quickly turned into curiosity. What probably makes the book hard to read ,and maybe this is the reason it isn’t liked as much by some students ,is that it is written out of the perspective of different people, the actual main characters. Once you figure that out, or better your child figures that out, the story is not as hard to follow as it first seems.  I am glad I read the story ahead of time though as I now know the story plot and it is so much easier to  guide  her through the book.

The added turtle research was a lot of fun. I googled for a few extra pictures, videos and fun facts. Unfortunately our small library did not have many books about Loggerhead turtles but maybe you get lucky and find some of these.


Far, far out at sea lives one of the world’s most mysterious creatures, the loggerhead turtle. For thirty years she swims the oceans, wandering thousands of miles as she searches for food. Then, one summer night, she lands on a beach to lay her eggs — the very same beach where she herself was born. Nicola Davies’s lyrical text offers fascinating information about the journey of the tiny, endangered loggerhead, while charming paintings by Jane Chapman vividly illustrate one turtle’s odyssey.

If you are really looking for more info about sea turtles, this will be a great addition. I know Moving beyond the page will cover ocean life etc a bit more later on, but I am not sure how much it will cover about turtles.

This series is also wonderful for younger kids, but provides quick info even for the older ones that don’t want to read 100 pages 😉

 

Of course the turtles are just a side study in this unit, but it is a fun one and the wonderful thing with Moving beyond the page is that you can stop and hang out at this subject for a bit, if your kids are super interested in it.

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Another completely different subject the book mentions is Calligraphy. One of the main characters learns how to write and use a calligraphy ink pen and naturally one of the activities was to try out the same. Now there are tons of different calligraphy sets out there from cheap to expensive. I did some  calligraphy as a child myself, i remember going to the local office/ art store and they had all the calligraphy nibs in a large set up and you could buy each one individually. So fun. They are a little harder to come by now but I did get lucky at our local MICHAELS and we purchased this Calligraphy
set. At home she could not wait to try it out. Of course I really should have bought some proper paper. I forgot how messy it can be and how much ink can leak through the other pages in a book or notepad. Oh well. It was fun and got me inspired to try it out as well again.

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Overall this unit was once again tons of fun. Our final project ” the tea party ” has not been able to take place yet, since we really wanted to bake some lovely scones to go along with our tea and our oven has been broken for nearly two weeks now.. so it will have to wait.

Anyways, hope this review of the unit has been of help.

Happy homeschooling !

 

 

9 to 11 Moving beyond the page addtional resources

These cards are a  wonderful addition for the units of 9 to 11 for Moving beyond the page.

These are cute cards with great info about figurative language which comes up quite often throughout MBTP 9-111. It was very helpful for the Poems unit, view from Saturday and as I am getting a quick look for the Tall Tales study ahead, it will be of use for it as well.

I printed these out black and white, let her color them and then laminated them. They turned out to be wonderful as bookmarks which my daughters uses very frequently. Download for free here at teachespayteachers.

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https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Figurative-Language-Anchor-Chart-Illustrated-Word-Wall-Cards-1697435

 

 

 

Community | Concept 1 | MBTP 6-8

Concept 1 from 6-8 MBTP has been community. All in all this topic was a little boring because I thought we have covered it so much already in the past, but given the recent move again it was actually quite useful.

Due to the weather we did not venture out through the community as much as I hoped but we have met and discovered some wonderful parts of our community nevertheless. It was fun looking up the Mayor of our town, and for whatever reason my little one thought it was fun to incorporate his name into their PLAYMOBIL adventures as the evil mayor.. somewhat like in the LEGO movie, hilarious.

And given this big change of community (from big city to little, country town) this unit probably helped cope with alot of the changes. The map in one of the first units was actually one of her favorite things. ( and once again it was once I was ready to skip. ) She loved making this map, and added so many things throughout the weeks to it, that it even ended up as a little playworld for lego people in her room. Win win.

The map didn’t have to be realistic to your own hometown, which made this a lot easier. The project was great and fun and really let our her creativity. Once she started she wanted to add so many more places.

 

The family flag was also a fun little project on the side.

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Venturing out and learning about our community was very hands-on in between lessons 🙂

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Here are some parts of one of her final projects during this Concept.

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We also dived deep into animal studies with this concept which was a delight for my youngest. She is still dreaming of becoming a Vet and even though she knew a lot of the information given already I felt it was much needed background and cleared up a lot of little questions she had. These were just some of our library books used for this Unit. I really enoyed Raptor Rescue!: An Eagle Flies Free
and the whole series of YOU WOULD NOT WANT TO is simply incredibly funny !! Rain Forests (Magic Tree House Research Guide)
was also a good addition for our montly reading.

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Today we wrapped up the lesson about this wonderful book .

One that seems to bring just a few tears to our eyes each and every time. I swear the first time I read it, I could not stop crying. My 6 year old is normally not my sensitive one but even she had tears in her eyes. Oh boy, these are the moments when homeschooling is worth every penny. The talks we have during these moments are really just priceless.

We also watched a few more videos on how we depend on nature and what exact products come from nature.

Typing Instructor for Kids *Review*

Since we are still in our temporary apartment  we don’t have all that much to do. We have run out of most books already and keep us entertained by the local parks, boardgames we have brought and a little bit of school work here and there. The other day I saw a great gold deal though through the “A” place and could not resist. I have had this Typing Instructor for Kids Platinum 5
typing program  for the kids on our lists for a long, long time, but always thought it was not good to add something to our agenda. Now seemed a great time though. Especially since both kids had complained about their typing skills just the day before again while skyping with their grandparents…

Once we received it the girls were excited to try it out.  The installment was super easy and fast, and no problem even with the recently Windows 10 update. wpid-wp-1442010547465.jpeg

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There are many worlds to explore and levels to beat. Once you have beat certain levels/ words (by beating the accuracy and words per minute challenged ) you get closer and closer to the castle. Letters are being introduced slowly that in each level the kids can concentrate on the new letters. They can play more challenging games before advancing to the next level to get a higher accuracy as well.

My little one was excited to get closer to the castle, trying to cheat (by typing with one finger and just finding the letters quickly) but after telling her a few times that, that wasn’t the “right way” and point of the game she surprised me each time when I looked, that her hands were placed correctly !

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I love that I can check on their progress and that each one of them can sign in with their own name and with that have their own accounts.

All in this is a really great beginners program that gets kids excited for typing on the computer. We have had so many incidents when my daughter has gotten mad over her typing skills that I have been wanting to find her something for quite some time. There are so many fun activities on the computer for them to do, but when typing just a single word, takes you “forever” it takes the fun out of it.  The lighting deal that day had the program for about $10 and the normal price is $17.99. For $10 it was amazing and very, very worth it. Would I buy it for the normal price ? Yeap, I think so. After a week they are still excited about playing it, and they have made a great progress in a short amount of time.

Any Cons ? The instructor voice is a little annoying and repeating with some of the instructions. It has bugged me a little, not the kids.

Other than that, I have not found anything yet 😉