Beautiful Christmas -- coloring book review

Thank you Ancient Faith Publishing for providing the coloring book Beautiful Christmas for review.

Coloring is not just a great way to practice fine motor skills but it is also a wonderful tool for exercising your brain. When you color you develop planning skills and build your creativity muscles. My special needs daughter is developmentally delayed both cognitively and physically. While chronologically outside the intended age range of 5-12 this coloring book was perfect for where she is developmentally.

From the back the cover:
Beautiful Christmas is a 64-page coloring book for children aged 5-12. As they color Christ in the cave or the shepherds glorifying God with the angels, they are cultivating their own sensibility to beauty while learning to recognize some of the meaningful symbols, elements, and motifs of the Church. May this small book bless those children who color and create within its pages.
I love the wide variety of coloring pages.  Some pictures have larger coloring spaces making it easier for those who are younger or have less developed fine motor skills and need a bigger space to practice staying in the lines.  Others are more detailed with smaller spaces and delicate designs that require more patience and fine motor skill to complete.  This is also great for children who can color an easy page one day and then work on a more difficult page another just as we sometimes read easier books just for fun and then at other times read more challenging books that cause us to grow.

Along with variations in the coloring spaces and details, we discovered icon coloring pages, coloring pages for St. Nicholas, St. Lucia, and Gabriel as well as some wonderful general Christmas pictures such as Christmas trees.  These pages were tucked in with Orthodox Christmas scenes such as Mary and Joseph setting out on the journey to Bethlehem, the animals in the cave, the wise men, and even the flight into Egypt.

Many of the coloring pages are captioned.  The captions sparked discussions.  "Mama we sing that at Christmas!"

In addition, there are several mazes throughout the book.  My daughter loves mazes.  I love that these are included because they also help exercise the brain and strengthen fine motor skills, eye tracking, and planning! 

When Supergirl was looking through the coloring book she got excited when she saw St. Nicholas.  She pointed at his picture. I expected her to choose to color St. Nicholas first but she chose Mary riding on the donkey for her first picture and the angel coming to Joseph in a dream as her second.

The quality of the coloring book is excellent! It has a very sturdy cover.  My complaint though is that the binding makes it difficult for the book to lay flat for coloring.  I just bent it back to loosen the binding to help it lay more flat.  This made it easier for Supergirl to color the pages on the left.

I asked Supergirl what she thought, and she said: "It is different."  I also asked her what it made her think of and she said, "Christmas Eve." 

We are enjoying the coloring book.  This is an excellent choice for a Christmas gift that reminds children of why we celebrate this wonderful holiday.  Check it out the Beautiful Christmas coloring book at the Ancient Faith Publishing Store!


Free Online Piano Lessons with SimplyMusic {Crew Review}

Recently the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to check out the Music & Creativity - Foundation Course from Simply Music. This course is free so every member of your family, with their own email address, could create their own Simply Music account.  With their own accounts, they can move through the program at their own speed and keep track of where they left off. If you have thought about piano lessons for yourself or your children but are unsure if it would be worth the time and investment you'll want to check out this free online piano course.

As part of the Leadership Team for the Homeschool Review Crew, I do not typically write reviews.  I volunteered to write this review. Originally I was thinking I would have family members use this program and tell me their thoughts and I would just tell you about the program.   I set up an account for myself and then I encouraged my family to set up their own accounts. Honeybear, Turtlegirl, and BooBear all set up accounts.  After working through several lessons myself, I really want Tailborbear to set up an account and give this a try.

While my family did poke around a bit and give me some of their thoughts,  I decided to take this review in a different direction because I started really using the program and fell in love.  I did watch videos and mark complete to get feel for the whole program but what I saw just blew me away so I started using the program for real while still "moving ahead to watch videos" for purposes of the review.

Background Information about the Program

There is a six-minute video overview of the Music & Creativity Program from Simply Music right on the home page.  Scroll down to find it and if you click on the watch on YouTube you will be able to watch using full screen.  Neil Moore, founder of Simply Music organization and creator of the MAC Program introduces himself and the program.  I encourage you to watch the video to hear it for yourself but I'm going to share a key point that sets this program apart.

Mr. Moore calls this a breakthrough program. Based on what I have read (so far) in the FREE eBook, Music and the Art of Long-Term Relationships, by Neil Moore, I agree this is a breakthrough in thinking and approach to teaching music. It is different than anything I have experienced as a student or as a parent of a music student. I think it is important that we understand why Simply Music's MAC Program is set up the way it is. It is their overall focus to "contribute to causing breakthroughs in creativity for humanity." Their fundamental premise is that "everyone, without exception, is deeply, naturally and profoundly musical."

In the book Mr. Moore lists four goals that the Simply Music Organization has:
  • Experience music as a natural self-expression
  • Play a huge repertoire, covering a wide array of musical styles and genres. We want our students to be able to sit down anywhere, at any time, and play lots of music.
  • Develop the ability to self-generate, meaning they can progress on their own. They are equipped to teach themselves, including having the ability to read music, and then set the page aside, carrying the song with them in their mind, heart, and hands.
  • Have a highly positive, self-affirming experience throughout the process.
I will share the quote from the book about the overriding goal in a bit when I talk about my thoughts ane experiences with the program.  Here is a diagram from the eBook (page 28) that lays out the overriding goal with the 4 goals I've listed above.

With the Music and Creativity Program - Foundation Course Simply Music lays the foundation. While you won't learn how to read music with this course, you will experience music as natural self-expression.  You'll begin to build a repertoire and learn skills that will allow you to continue to build that repertoire. This course lays the foundation for growing the ability to self-generate and I have been having a highly positive, self-affirming experience so far!

How It Works

Mr. Moore's approach is very different.  He has a learn-by-playing approach that gets students playing real songs from the start. Mr. Moore calls it a "playing-based method."  This method allows you to see music in terms of shapes and patterns.

In the video portions of the lessons, Mr. Moore breaks down the songs into the shapes and patterns that you need in order to play the song.  For example, in Lesson 6 we learn more chords.  In this screenshot, we see Mr. Moore's hand as he teaches us how to build the shape of the chord with the first, third and fifth fingers.

Lesson Set Up

It is easy to look at the table of contents and see 19 Lessons and a Quick Start Lesson and think "oh I can finish this course in about 20 weeks.  I can do one lesson a week."   But that isn't how it works.  To quote Neil Moore:  "How long will it take?  As long as it takes."

Some lessons are going to take longer.  If you have some experience with the piano you may find that you move more quickly.  One of the reasons that some lessons will take longer than others is the content of the lessons.  Some lessons have multiple videos to watch as you can see from this screenshot:

Other lessons only have one video:

As you can see from both screenshots the resources you need for that lesson are available right there on the page.  I liked being able to get to the music tracks or resources from the lesson page instead of having to download them to my computer and then transfer to my tablet.

There are different types of lessons.  Some lessons teach a learning strategy, while others teach a song.  There are lessons that build on each other for learning improvisation and accompaniment.

The first learning strategy lesson is Lesson 2 where we are taught the strategy of learning slowly in slow doses and "controlling the event."    Mr. Moore refers to these strategies several times.  He defines a learning strategy as an approach you would apply to any piece of music you are learning.  It isn't specific only to the piece you are working on at the moment.  So working slowly and in small doses is a strategy that we can apply to all the songs we are learning and it helps to minimize the number of errors and mistakes we will make.

Mr. Moore is quick to point out that making a mistake is not a problem and that we're going to make them.  But breaking down learning the song into small doses and going slowly as we process the skill we will have faster success.  Controlling the event is making sure we understand the process and that we tell ourselves which fingers play and in which order they play.

The "control the events" part of the learning strategy brings an auditory component to the learning as we explain out loud to ourselves exactly what each hand is going to do.   In this screenshot Mr. Moore explains that we are going to say out loud exactly what we want the left hand to do and exactly what we want the right hand to do:

Another learning strategy teaches the difference between "what to play" and "how to play" and how separating those ideas helps the brain to focus and makes learning faster.  The final learning strategy teaches you how to use the sustain pedal.

Because this is a free course I think it is worth the time to check it out just for those learning strategies!

Using the Program:

I highly recommend starting by watching the video on the home page that gives an overview of the program and then start reading the Music and the Art of Long-Term Relationships.  The program has you begin with the Quickstart lesson but during the video, it says to skip that lesson if you want more of the background.  To skip you'll need to mark it complete.  If you skip the improvising Eliza in the Quickstart you'll want to come back to it after Lesson 3 and before Lesson 4 where you build in that first improvisation.

I watched most of the video lessons so I could write this review but then I went back to the beginning to actually use the program.  I was thrilled with the idea of doing improvisation on the black keys.  I have been playing around using only the black keys for a couple of decades but never thought of it as improvisation because I found an arrangement I really loved and never really varied from that concept.  Oh and by "found" I mean by playing around with keys and liking what I did.   In the video, Mr. Moore showed me that I could do more.  I am actually looking forward to doing more improvisation.

I confess I did skip ahead a little bit and took what I watched from Lesson 6 about chords and have tried to add some of that into my own black key improvisation.  It has rekindled my love of music and makes me feel that maybe just maybe I can be creative with music.

I am forcing myself through Lesson 3 which is learning Dreams Come True.  I have mastered the RH and I think I've mastered the left hand but I need to continue working on putting them together so that I can get to the fun part of playing it with instrumental track provided by Simply Music.  I really want to try the idea of listening to the instrumental with earbuds on a device and plugging headphones into the digital piano and wearing the headphones over the earbuds to get a full sound immersion.

Having peeked ahead I love that I'll be learning more about Jazz and Blues and more about accompaniment.

Final Thoughts:

This quote from Neil Moore spoke to me.  In many of the videos, he mentions having music as a lifelong companion.  On page 26 of the Music and the Art of Long-Term Relationships ebook, Mr. Moore states:

This specific, overriding objective is far more important than a goal that focuses on a certain standard of musicianship. For me, whether a student emerges as agreat player, a good player or an average player isn’t nearly as important as whether a student develops to a stage where they can have music as a lifelong companion.

One of my regrets is that I didn't make music more of a priority for myself.  I was frustrated with self-teaching books and I couldn't afford lessons for myself.  I wanted my children to have lessons so we made that a priority. I feel I have pushed music aside and neglected a huge part of myself.  I have rediscovered my love of the piano and of music. I feel that Mr. Moore is giving me the ability and the freedom to play for myself for the simply joy of music.  When my mother would say "Tess plays the piano."  I felt the need to correct them and say "no, really I play with the piano."  I feel like I have permission now to "play with the piano.'' I have tools now that were missing.

This program isn't for everybody though.  Some folks like Turtlegirl may find it difficult to change from a more traditional approach to this play-based approach. Turtlegirl was looking for something more theory-based to help her with composing music.

If you are a classically trained player like my BooBear you may find it very difficult to wrap your brain around this approach.  She struggled with it.  She has this to say about the program based on her background and experience:

I am more a fan of highly technical and theory-based training as that worked best with my brain and personality. But I could see for those who rebel against highly structured training this might be a good fit. I think there is some value in both. Improv can encourage creativity but also studies have shown that the theory and technical aspects of music can have huge impacts on brain development.

I, on the other hand,  have enjoyed this so much that I am seriously considering purchasing the next course which is the Foundation Enhancement Course which builds on what you learn in the Foundation course.

Several members of the Crew and Leadership took the time to explore Simply Music's Music & Creativity - Foundation CourseI encourage you to visit the Homeschool Review Crew Blog to find links to those reviews and read more reviews.  My review is long but I didn' cover everything so do go read those reviews! I also encourage you to check out the MAC Program for yourself especially if you have ever wanted to be able to play the piano and felt you couldn't.  This program will show you that you can!


Just in time for Lent! A review of The Wilderness Journal

Lent is fast approaching Today is Meatfare Sunday.  As a community, Orthodox Christians will not eat meat again after today until the fast is broken on Pascha.  But Lent is more than just not eating meat or dairy.  It's a time of preparation.  We renew our minds by focusing on the spiritual.  Along with fasting we pray more and do almsgiving.  Many of us turn to books to help us renew our minds and focus on the spiritual.  The Wilderness Journal: 365 Days with the Philokalia by Angela Doll Carlson is an excellent choice for preparing for Lent.

First let's talk about the Philokalia. The Philokalia is not a single continuous book with one author. It is is a mult-volume collection of texts from the 4th to the 14th centuries focusing on spiritual living. The writers are all spiritual masters in the Orthodox Christian Tradition.

The Wilderness Journal is a devotional tool we can use  to pursue Holiness by mediating on God, faith and Spiritual things.   Unlike the common Bible devotions available where you read a short passage from scripture and then the devotional author shares his or her thoughts on the passage, this book helps us to mediate on spiritual living by using passages from the first volume of the Philokalia.  Angela Doll Carlson invites you to come along with her as she shares her year long journey of reading and journalling the Philokalia.

From the back of the book:
 The Philokalia - a collection of the best writings from Orthodox spiritual masters across many centuries - is a treasure trove of direction for the spiritual life. But it can be overwhelming at first glance. Popular author and podcaster Angela Doll Carlson set herself the mission of reading through The Philokalia in a year and journaling about the thoughts it called up in her. The result is a thoughtful, inspiring daily devotional that introduces new readers to this great spiritual classic and helps us apply the wisdom of the ages to a layperson's life in the modern world.
The book opens with a short Explorer's Note letter.  Angela Doll Carson shares how her wilderness journal began and how it is "a view of [her] own wilderness, words from words, in dialogue with the text itself. Because our dialogue might differ from hers, we are encouraged to "consider keeping a wilderness journal of your own."    

The Wilderness Journal is divided into sections for each of the spiritual masters.  Each saint's section’s first day is an introduction. These introductions are not written by Angela Doll Carlson. Each one is written by a different author but all of them provide background information to help readers learn a little more about the spiritual master.

Each day, after the introduction, begins with a couple of sentences.  Some days there is only a one sentence such as Day 59 where we read "Cultivate great humility and courage, and you will escape the power of demons." Evagrios the Solitary, "on Prayer, p. 66 [ page 73] while others are more like a paragraph.  Most days however, begin with a 2 or 3 sentence quote from the Philokalia. All of the quotes are from the first volume.

There is one reading for each day so there are 365 readings. The beauty of this though is that they are numbered Day 1, Day 2 Day 3 etc. So you can start any day and if you are like me and skip a day or three here and there you can just pick up where you left off without being hounded by the date across the top not matching. There is a month listed in the upper right hand corner but it is smaller and in italics and I find it easy to ignore it and focus on the large bold Day 68 for example.

We read quotes from these spiritual masters:

  • Isaiah the Solitary
  • Evagrios the Solitary
  • John Cassian
  • Mark the Ascetic
  • Hesychios the Priest
  • Neilos the Ascetic
  • Diadochos of Photiki
  • John Karpathos

I have found that I get the most out of each day's readings when I take the time to read and re-read the quoted Philokalia text and think about what it means to me before reading what Ms Doll Carlson had to say about it. Sometimes she takes in a direction that I would have never thought and yet it makes sense.

This isn't an easy book to read but it is thought provoking. The readings are short but don’t let that fool you in to thinking they are not rich, deep, and thought provoking. Angela Doll Carlson is a talented writer who paints pictures with her words. She shares her journey through the wildness and invites us to travel with her. I find myself not just thinking about what the Spiritual Master had to say, but about how Ms Doll Carlson frames the application for our modern world.

Book Details:
  • Author: Angela Doll Carlson 
  •  Format: Paperback 
  •  Dimensions: 5.5 X 8.5 inches 
  •  Page Length: approx. 400 pages 
  •  Publisher: Ancient Faith Publishing 
  •  ISBN: 9781944967512 
  •  Retail Price: $18.95

I recommend this book as an introduction to Philokalia. Angie Doll Carlson has made these gems accessible for those like me who find the Philokalia intimidating and overwhelming.

I received this book from Ancient Faith Publishing in exchange my honest review.


My Love Affair with the Homeschool Review Crew!

Yes I am specifically writing this post to link up to the Friday (I know it's not Friday!) Homeschool Blogger Link Up hosted by the Homeschool Review Crew a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.  This Crew Blog's post is Homeschool Review Crew Needs You.  Yep we want to grow the crew an to do that we need more home educating bloggers.  But not just bloggers.  We want Vloggers too!  Are you an active You Tube Vlogger?  We have a section in the 2019 Crew Application just for you!

Make Friends, Have Fun  Join the Crew!  Now accepting Applications for 2019!

Now that you know why I am writing this post let me tell about my long term love affair with the Homeschool Review Crew.  We meet to speak when it was brand spanking new in 2008.  An online friend and co-moderator with me of an online email group for home school support had just embarked on the Maiden Voyage of this new concept of receiving home school product in exchange for a review!  Back in those days you didn't have to be a blogger you just had to have a place such as a home school support group newsletter to share your review.  It sounded scary and a bit overwhelming and when applications for the 2nd year were open I just couldn't bring myself to do it.   BUT!   Another co-moderator and good friend from that group applied and was accepted.  I spent the next year hearing about how incredible the experience was.  Not just with getting introduced to some really cool product but making friends and growing a blog.  They wanted to expand for the 3rd year.  I had been writing up reviews of sort as responses to questions so I had some experience but I was still so unsure.  I had started a blog and then had  let it kind  of but in the spring of 2009 I was back to blogging.  The Crew needed folks with high school students.  I had a high school student.  I had one in high school 1 in junior high and two in elementary.  I gave in to the pressure of "encouragement."  and was invited to join the crew for the 3rd year which ran June 2010 to May 2011.

It was the best decision I think I ever made regarding home schooling.  We hit some really hard lows financially and if it were not for the crew I would not have been able to give my girls the amazing education they got.  God provided for my family what we needed for education through the Crew.  I would pray over goals and subjects and then watch as just what we needed (even if I didn't realize we needed it at the time) appear on my list of review products.   Math courses, literature courses, electives, just-for-fun, science, history and lots of supplemental things.

But my love affair isn't just related all the amazing products we've received over the years.  While I don't consider myself a highly technical person I've learned a thing or two about blogging.  I've learned a thing or two about social media.  I've learned a thing or two about writing as well so my writing and blogging has improved over the years.  I choose not to be a "professional blogger" but I wanted to be there are lots of folks on the crew would be wiling to give me a lesson or two on how to do that.

You see we have the wonderful private forum just for Crew members!  On this forum we have boards where you can get technical support for your blog or advice on your home business.  There's a board for asking  for a great recipe or ideas of lunches.  We have a board for homeschooling support.   I think my favorite board is the Prayer and Praise board.   We support each other through prayer.  We rejoice with the praises.  And of course the main purpose of the board are the sections  with the information crew members need for their reviews.   Many folks say the forum is what they miss most when they step down from the crew.

In the fall of 2015 I was offered the position of Crew Leader.  As a Crew Leader I join with the other Crew Leaders to make the Crew run as smoothly as possible. I accepted the job because I love the crew and because it gives me a chance to make sure that the crew is there for other folks like me who need the support and who need the products.

I have made friends through the crew.  I have found support through the crew.  I have received tools to give my daughters an amazing education.   I love the Homeschool Review Crew and I'd love for you to join us!


Introducing GrammarPlanet ~ Homeschool Review Crew

As a Crew Leader for the Homeschool Review Crew I typically do not write reviews.  I become familiar with the product so that I can do my job as Review Quality Manager.  From time to time , I come across an amazing product that I love so much that I choose to write a review simply because I love the product.

GrammarPlanet is one of those products that I love so much that I want to share it with my readers.

GrammarPlanet is an online subscription based program to teach students of any level. This program can be used with students who have had no previous grammar instruction as well as students who have had quite a bit more experience.

So what is GrammarPlanet?  GrammarPlanet "is the brainchild of Erin Karl and Jerry Baily."  Let me share with you what Erin shared with me about GrammarPlanet:

The creation of GrammarPlanet is the realization of a years-long dream to be able to make grammar education … REAL grammar education … available and affordable for anyone, regardless of the type of school, the economic background, the location, etc. While there are a lot of homeschoolers who will benefit from it, I also hope low-income schools, students who go to schools that don’t teach it, and adults who never learned it, will be able to finally learn HOW our language works and therefore learn how to speak and write it correctly. 
The core philosophy behind GP is my mother’s creation: Analytical Grammar, a book-based program that has been on the homeschool market for more than two decades. Mom passed away more than three years ago, but before her death we were talking about how cool it would be to have a website like this. It’s SO exciting to me that the dream she (and Jerry!) and I discussed back then is now real. Her way of teaching grammar is just SO GOOD. I want as many people around the world as possible to have access to it, and digital is by far the way to go to achieve that dream. ~ Erin Karl, GrammarPlanet
GrammarPlanet teaches grammar through videos and pdf files of notes.  Students practice parsing sentences using the interactive program.  As I type this there are 13 Units available.  In the How this Works section on the main page of GrammarPlanet.com you will find a pdf with a projected outline of what they are planing to cover.  The list keeps growing!

This program will cover everything!  This program also teaches how to diagram starting in Unit 6.  The diagramming needs to be on a separate piece of paper but there is a key to check your work.

The Videos

Each unit begins with a teaching video.  The length of the videos varies from unit to unit with some only a few a minutes and others roughly 10 minutes long.  The more complex the information being presented, the more time Ms Karl takes to explain the concept and walk students through the process steps needed.

For me the videos feel like Erin is sitting down with me at my desk and not just teaching me but encouraging me and coaching me.  "If you take your time and follow the process steps exactly as I have outlined them, you'll be fine."   She encourages folks to do no more than 15 minutes at time. "Sometimes your brain just needs a break."  In one video I was nearly certain she had some type of intel  on my home as she said "you have other things you need to do besides grammar."  Really, Erin, were you looking in my window and seeing the dirty dishes?

There are some really great features of the videos I want to point out:

  • They are interactive! ~  There are quiz questions sprinkled out through out the video.  You can replay the section or answer the question.  Some questions are true/ false and some are multiple choice.  Examples include:  "Which group is a list of proper nouns?" or  "True or False  Some linking verbs can also be action verbs."  
  • They are Closed Captioned! ~ I am hard of hearing and my computer sound isn't so great so I appreciated being able to turn on those captions.  
  • On the left is a panel with a outline of what's covered in the video.  This is very helpful if you are trying to re-watch the video  and just want to skip ahead to the section you need.
  • You can open the videos in another tab to get more of a full screen video. I much preferred having it play in a new tab. 

How I used it myself:

I set up myself as a student so that I could get a feel for the program.  As a Crew Leader I wanted to get familiar with the program so  I could answer Crew Member reviews.  As a homeschool mom, I wanted to check out the program to see if I could adapt it to work with Supergirl. 

At first I was like really watch a video?  I know what a noun is? Read the notes?  Come on I am a college graduate who has taught grammar to my students in my homeschool.  I know that a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea.  I think I cruised through Unit 1  Common Nouns and Unit 2 Proper Nouns when I realized I really did need to watch the videos so that I could get a feel for the program.  Take my advice.  Even if you think you know the topic watch the video.  

I found that I loved the program.  Parsing each sentence was fun and when I got to Unit 6  found that doing the diagrams were like solving a riddle.  I think I cheered once or twice or I lost count of how many times I cheered when my diagram matched the key exactly.  So working on GrammarPlanet became a fun way for me to relax or unwind.  I am far enough in the program that I really do need to take Erin's advice and take it slow.  I usually only do 2 or 3 sentences  along with the diagramming.  I have every intention of continuing this for myself until I have completed the whole course.

Using this With Supergirl:

For my regular readers you know that Supergirl is different.  She's my developmentally delayed, medically fragile, special needs miracle.   She defies all labels.  I don't recommend using GrammarPlanet with a neurotypical child who is not yet reading fluently.  GrammarPlanet is intended for ages 10 to 99 nd I agree with that age range.  I think for those of us with some grammar knowledge we need to be careful that we don't let that trip us up and for those like Supergirl with little to no understanding of grammar concepts, Erin Karl does a fantastic job of making the concepts understandable and doable.

The recommendation is to to use the program for about 15 minutes a day every other day.  Some students may be able to use it every day but others will need the break to let the information marinate.   

So for Supergirl we started  by watching the video and reading the notes. Then we tried a sentence  and stopped for the day.  The next time we watched the video again and read through the notes again and did a couple of more sentences.  The third session we did not re-watch the video.

Supergirl is not reading fluently though she is ready for grammar instruction especially the way that GrammarPlanet teaches it.  So I read the sentence to her twice and then she picked out the nouns. The first few sessions she struggled with grasping that the common noun is just one word.  She wanted to add the adjectives or articles.

When she was stuck we used the terminology used in the video.  "What are we are talking about in this sentence? What are the topics?"   "Oh we're talking about scientists!"  or "Oh we're talking about math." Sometimes she would guess and pick a word that is not a noun so I would ask her "are we talking about revolving?"  "No."  By the end of Unit 1 she was correcting herself.   Using the "what are topics," concept she was able to correctly identify "studying" and "learning" as nouns. Yes, they are gerunds but Erin doesn't expect students to know that at this level. She's teaching students about how nouns work. These were the things we were talking about so they are nouns because they function like nouns. They are being used as nouns.

 Supergirl aced Unit 1 and we have started Unit 2. If we keep taking it just a couple of sentences a day a couple of times a week I know that she'll be gaining a solid understanding of the English language. I don't know yet how I will tackle diagramming with her when we get to Unit 6 but I think it might involve index cards  and arranging those cards in the sentence diagram.

Supergirl working on GrammarPlanet Unit 2

Supergirl's Thoughts:

I like it.  I think it is fun because I like picking out the words.   I like the teacher in the videos because she is so sweet.  I like the quiz questions in the video. 

 My Thoughts:

I think this is an excellent program that teaches grammar concepts in a logical easy-to-understand manner.  While I knew what a linking verb was and what a predicate nominative was it seemed so simple.  So basic yet earth shattering to hear Erin say "if the subject and the noun after the verb are the same person you have a linking a verb."   Duh.  Why did no one else ever put it that way?

I even have a better understanding of diagramming.  I hated diagramming.  I think because I didn't grasp it.  Now I get it.

I have recommended that Boobear who will be starting her graduate studies in a few weeks to work this program to brush up on her skills since she will be writing graduate level papers. 

Tailorbear has an account all set up and she'll be working through the program.

Looking for a painless way to teach grammar to your children?  Want to improve your own grammar skills?  I highly recommend checking out GrammarPlanet.  Currently there is a free version available that is ad supported.  Soon there will be an option to upgrade to a paid account.   GrammarPlanet generously provided ad free paid accounts to Homeschool Review Crew members.   You can click on the banner below to read their reviews!