Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TOS Review - WRITE SHOP Junior Book D - with a discount!


DISCLAIMER: The following is a review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free, downloadable copy of the WriteShop Junior Book D program, to use with my kids in exchange for my personal opinion of this product. I did not receive any other compensation.

As with any review, my opinion is one of many. Please visit the Crew's Blog to read more reviews of this and other products of WriteShop.

I was very excited to be able to review this Incremental Writing Program and it did not disappoint.

As part of the Crew, I received the WriteShop Junior Book D for my children. I received the downloadable product, which I received in a ZIP file. It was easy to download, without any technical difficulties.

Amanda Pelser’s wrote a tutorial on using WriteShop e-books on an iPad. 

This product is aimed at Grades 3-5 and even reluctant 6 Graders. Other Crew Members reviewed WriteShop Primary Books A, B and C, aimed at Grades K-3.

The aim of WriteShop is: 
'WriteShop Junior is designed for parents to work closely with their grade 3-6 children, guiding them toward writing independence. Through activities and exercises, you teach the creative process of writing so your child has the skills and confidence to successfully complete each writing assignment. WriteShop Junior equips children with specific tools they need to develop the ability to write effectively. Whether you have a more advanced child or one who is a slower learner, this program is flexible so students can work at their own level.'

When I looked at the Teacher's Guide (42 page .pdf), I was impressed. It provides you as parent / teacher with several different Lesson Plan options to fit your specific situation. Detailed descriptions of all the materials you'll need for each lesson are clearly set out. It gives ideas for a writing centre, and explains all the different activity sets for each lesson in detail. 

In addition to the Teacher’s Guide, I received:

Book D Teacher's Manual - This manual contains .pdf files for each lesson (10 all up) as well as extra resources.
Book D Activity pack (144 page .pdf), which includes the Fold-N-Go Grammar Pack and Student Worksheet Pack. 
Time-Saver Pack (24 page .pdf)

Here is a list of what is being taught in WriteShop Junior.

The Manual

The manual included .pdf files for each lesson. Each lesson is laid out in detail so that you as parent don't have to reinvent the wheel. Just follow the ideas and prompts in the lesson plan and teaching writing would not only be easier, but fun for you and the kids.

The Lessons

Each lesson takes 2 - 3 weeks to complete, depending on the plan you follow. The lessons are divided into 8 sections. The lessons also have a sample script you can follow in explaining and guiding your child through each lesson.

As I was given the eBook version of this product, I printed the lessons, activity sheets needed and the relevant pages from the Time-Saver Pack before we started. 

Each lessons starts with a 'Fold-N-Go' Grammar activity. This is a fantastic tool that is made for each child during each lesson (or that they make themselves). At the end, your kids will sit with 10 folders which will serve as grammar tools to aid in their writing, helping with punctuation, self-editing, rules for writing Titles, and more. The Fold-N-Go activity for Lesson 2 has some interesting tips in how to make editing fun, like wearing a special hat. The kids had a fun time with that. When editing, they would wear their 'editors hat' and read their work in a funny voice. 


One of the pre-writing activities in Lesson 1 was to play a game where 3 very different invitations are cut up into different sections (date, salutations, body, closing and signature). Each person chose a 'body' and the rest of the sections were turned upside down and all mixed up. Everyone then took turns in picking up one section to complete the invitation. The kids enjoyed this activity very much, and we've played it more than once, twice, three .... well, a lot.

Each lesson has a writing project to complete, edit and publish. The project for lesson 1 was writing an 'invitation' and lesson 2 was writing 'fiction with humor'. For lesson 2, the kids came up with a funny story about my mum and cleaning. We typed it up, made props and then performed it for her. Lots of laughs in-between reading the script made it all the more funny. Mum thoroughly enjoyed it!

It was easy to follow the two-week lesson plan to get through the lessons we've done so far. 

The Time-Saver Pack 

I found this a great extra resource as it is filled with pre-made printouts of what you need for the different activities. If you like to make your own resources, you have the option of doing so, otherwise, just click and print! 

We are enjoying this program immensely. The team at WriteShop (read more about them HERE), did an outstanding job of putting together all the resources needed to teach this program, which is fun and of high quality. I can recommend this to anyone who is looking for a writing program that you will enjoy teaching and the children will enjoy learning. Thumbs up all around!

If you are keen to have a further look at the lessons, please visit this lesson page for a free download and an option to receive a monthly e-newsletter

The 'bottom line'

WriteShop has various excellent writing programs available for kids Grades K through to High School. 

WriteShop Junior Book D would cost you:

Teacher's Guide 
  • eBook - US$34.95
  • Print Edition - US$39.95

Activity Pack
  • eBook - US$29.95
  • Print - US$39.95

Time-Saver Pack
  • eBook - US$13.95
  • Print - US$13.95

Visit their product page to see prices for all their products. 

On top of the amazing product, the fabulous team at WriteShop is offering readers of my blog a special discount:

15% off any WriteShop Primary and Junior products in the WriteShop store (including e-books) 

Just use coupon code CREW15 at checkout. 

Offer valid through June 15, 2012.

Do yourself and your kids a favor, and have a look at this fantastic product!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cake Pops

Thought I'd share what I've been up to tonight :)
Was very fun to make it.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TOS Review - Judah Bible Curriculum


DISCLAIMER: As part of the TOS Review Crew, I received the full downloadable copy of the Judah Bible  Curriculum for free in exchange for my honest review.

As with any review, the following is my own opinion and one of many. Please visit the Crew Blog to see what other reviewers thought of this product.


The Judah Bible Curriculum is available in hard copy as well as a downloadable product.

Judah Bible Curriculum Pack hard copy:

    $69.00, plus 5.00 p&h,
    Total $74.00.
    Allow 7 days for delivery.
    You get:
    1) Judah Bible Curriculum K-12 Manual;
    2) Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet;
    3) Eight-lecture Teacher Training Seminars on CDs.

Purchase Judah Bible Curriculum delivered online:

    Total $44.00.
    Download the e-book and begin today!
    You get:
    1) Judah Bible Curriculum K-12 Manual, e-book format to download; (100 pages)
    2) Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet to view online or download; (60 pages)
    3) Eight-lecture Teacher Training Seminars. listen online or download. (approx. 8 hours!)

WHAT is the Judah Bible Curriculum (JBC)?

Judah Bible Curriculum is a Principle Approach curriculum for Bible class for all ages, with the BIBLE as the textbook. Throughout the studies, the children and parent / teacher will also develop a Notebook which will serve as a place to put writing assignments, key sheets, maps, illustrations etc. which will be completed for each theme.

Now, you might ask what is the 'Principle Approach' (PA)... I too had to find out what it is. 

And here is a good explanation of what it is:

The Principle Approach is a way of teaching and learning that puts the Word of God at the heart of every subject and teaches the student how to think and learn. The philosophy and method include these three distinct characteristics:

Teaching students to reason Biblically for themselves, producing excellent Christian scholarship

Nurturing individual self-governance in each student, causing them to take responsibility for their own education and growth

Setting all learning in the context of God’s hand moving in providential history—His Story

This is not a curriculum where you open a book and follow the instructions with lessons all planned out for you. It is, as explained above, an in-depth way of studying and teaching the Bible to produce Godly character. With this approach, the teacher / parent will need to learn this approach first, before being able to teach it to the student. 

The JBC is an in-depth curriculum that builds on itself over time. This can be used with kids of all ages. With the JBC you go through the Bible each year. The aim is not to read each chapter every year, but to study specific high points from Genesis to Revelations. 

The Bible is divided into 5 Themes which are studied each year. These themes depict what is happening governmentally throughout the Bible and are:

Theme 1 - Creation
Theme 2 - The Plan of Redemption Begins
Theme 3 - Kingdom of Israel
Theme 4 - Kingdom of God
Theme 5 - The Early Church

The Old Testament is studied in one semester and the New Testament is studied in the next semester. As you work through these themes you will study different keys, including key individuals, key events, key institutions and key documents. This is done using the key sheets that come with the manual, which will be placed in the notebooks. 

Each Theme takes approximately 5 weeks to complete.

Visit the SCOPE AND SEQUENCE page to get an overview of how this is taught. 

As mentioned this is not a set out curriculum, but rather a way to study the Bible in depth. The manual doesn't give you complete lesson plans or an exhaustive list of ideas for each week of study, but it does provide a starting point. 

The notebook could be a 3-ring binder which will hold things like writing assignments, maps, art for younger kids, illustrations, key sheets, etc. To learn more about the Notebook Approach click on the link.

HOW we used it:

As I have mentioned earlier, as a parent / teacher you will need to do some learning first before you can implement any of this. There are 8 lectures for the parent / teacher  in mp3 format to listen to. Each of these lectures is approximately an hour in length. They include:


I only listened to some of this to get my head around it. Lecture 6 was useful and then I listened to Lecture 3 - Creation to Flood as we used this for the duration of the review. The audios can be difficult to listen to as they are presented to an audience where visuals are referred to and we didn't have access to those. The audience members also asked questions which were unclear on the audio clip. 

It is a lot to take in and with other curve balls being thrown my way, I'm sure I could have done a more in-depth job if I had more time to really get to grips with this curriculum before implementing it.

In saying that, the kids did enjoy the things we did. We alway do Bible study as part of our daily routine, so taking a deeper look at God's word wasn't new for the kids. Completing the key sheets, was a new concept which they found challenging, but they enjoyed it. 

The manual presents you with a suggested weekly theme guide that you can follow.

Week 1 was Creation, Genesis 1:1-25. The key verse was Gen. 1:1 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'.

Day 1 - I talked about the philosophy behind the curriculum and the kids learned what self-governance means. We read Genesis 1 and discussed it. Gen. 1:1 was our memory verse.
Day 2 - We read Genesis 1 again and made 'Creation booklets'. The children had one page for each day of creation and drew a picture of what God created on that day. They wrote the scripture down for each day too. 
Day 3 - We looked at the key sheets and talked about key individuals and key events and completed some of the sheet.
Day 4 - We talked about 'what ifs' - (What if God did not create the earth) and about what this chapter tells us about the character of God. 
Day 5 - I believe it is important that the kids understand that not everyone believes in a literal 6-day creation, so we talked about other theories and beliefs about creation. 

There are many other things you could do, but this is how we started. 

The difficulties:

My first reaction to this curriculum was a sense of being overwhelmed and thinking 'I have to go back to school to learn this, will I ever get my head around this and where will I find the time to listen to 8 hours worth of training videos?' 

It takes time to digest, as there is a lot of information to take in. 

If you do have the time / or better still, make the time to go through this and then implement it, I believe it can be a worthwhile curriculum to have. 

For us who like to come up with our own ideas or search the internet for some ideas, it might make the curriculum somewhat easier, but for those who find generating fresh ideas more difficult, it would be a challenge to come up with activities for the kids to do and add to their notebooks. You will get a 'notebook ideas' file, and although it might not always be appropriate for your child's age, it does help to spark some ideas of what you can do. Perhaps the kids can even come up with their own ideas. 

Will I continue now that my review is done?

I do think it is a valuable curriculum, and although I think it will take some time for most teachers / parents to really get to grips with this, I firmly believe that it is worthwhile investing the time to prepare well before implementing it. I certainly will be doing so. 

Don't forget to visit the Crew Blog to read some more reviews.