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!


Thankful Thursday 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement

It's Thursday!  Thankful Thursday and day 4 of the Back to School 5 Days of Encouragement Blog hop hosted by the Homeschool Review Crew!

Today's post is simple and to the point.

I am grateful for the Homeschool Review Crew.  I started as crew member in June 2010  which was the start of Year 3.

I've been serving on the crew since then coming back for Year 4, the short transitional 2012 and continuing with 2013, 2014 and 2015.  In 2016 I stepped up into the role of Crew Leader.

Through the Crew I have made some fabulous friends.  I've been introduced to vendors I never would have known about and tried products that I never knew i needed until I reviewed them.

Money has been tight. Some years more tight than others.  God certainly used the Homeschool Review Crew to provide curriculum that I might not have been able to afford otherwise.

Because of the Crew I've had a change to try different reading and math programs with Supergirl and really get to know her learning style and what works best for her.

Because of the Crew Turtlegirl discovered she loves languages and has an aptitude for them.  Because of the crew she studied Latin, Russian, and French.

I couldn't imagine trying to home educate without being part of the Homeschool Review Crew.

What are you thankful for today?   Be sure to visit some other crew members to read what they are thankful for.  See what makes them keep going on this journey of learning through home education.

Here are just a few of the Homeschool Review Crew members who are participating.  Visit their blogs and be sure to check out even more  posts on the linky!

Jennifer @ Dear Homeschooler
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Karen @ Tots and Me...Growing Up Together
Kellyann @ Walking Home ...
Kimberley @ Vintage Blue Suitcase
Kristen @ A Mom's Quest to Teach
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Linda @ Apron Strings & other things


Work it Wednesday 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement from the Homeschool Review Crew

Today's theme for the Back to School 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement  is Work It In Wednesday! Today I want to share about how homeschooling isn't just form of education but a way of life.  One of my big goals for home education was to instill a love of life long learning in my children.  Just because it isn't a school day or we are on vacation doesn't mean that education doesn't happen.

We live in a state that requires instructional hours.  Something equivalent to 5.5 "instructional" hours a day for 180 days.  Thankfully my state recognizes that home education can be more efficient than classroom education in a public school.

We tended to do 'year round' schooling taking breaks as life thew its punches.  During the summer we did more "fun" school like hands on science but my favorite thing about "homeschool as a lifestyle" is that going on vacation didn't mean a break from learning.  It meant a break from formal lessons and math workbooks but education still happened.

So how did we manage to get the instructional hours in?  We did it on vacation.

Recently  we had the opportunity to vacation in Port Townshend, WA.  This is the most northern point of WA on the Olympic Peninsula.  When we stopped at rest areas we look at the map.  We find where we are and we look for where we are going.

We also took time when at the Marine Life Center (more about that! I promise!) and a couple of restaurants to look at maps they had posted.  Supergirl started grasping the layout of the area.

Supergirl also got to experience and grasp the idea that Washington is a big area.   This was an expansion of geography that she started exploring when we drove from Washington to Minnesota and back again. She knew that we lived in Washington but hadn't grasped that we lived in a city in Washington.  She has a better grasp of that now and going forward when we look at a map of Washington or a map of the US she can use her experience of traveling as frame.

 We visited two different Marine Life Centers while on vacation.  One in Port Angeles and one at Fort Worden State Park near Port Townshend.  It was actually our college girl that asked if we could do so.  She isn't even homeschooling anymore and yet she was just excited to learn more.  I guess I was successful in instilling a life long love of learning!

We learned that some sea stars think humans are tasty.  I wish I had taken a photo of the HUGE sea star.  It was not the typical 5 point "starfish"  it had like 40 "legs".  It was very near the edge of the tank and the volunteer told us to make sure we did not get to close as it would try to latch on to us.   Yikes!

I got all excited as there was a display showing how the land was changing as they remove the dam and the water flows.  We talked about land forms.  So we had a bit of biology and a bit of physical geography.  We talked about rocks too which was perfect since we've been studying Rocks and Minerals.

Supegirl loved the rockfish and we learned about how they saved the fish by removing its diseased eye.  I think the fish may have been her favorite part.

She loved the Marine Life Center so much that she asked if we could go back but instead of going back we went to the one near Port Townshend.   Supergirl got some one on one time with a volunteer who answered questions, pointed things out and encouraged Supergirl to get hands on.

They had two exhibits and one was about Orca whales! I learned that there are two kinds of Orca Whales.  Transitional and Residential.   Supergirl and I did a lapbook a few years ago on Whales and Dolphins and I am thinking I may have to pull that study out and look through it again!

 We visited historical sites like Fort Worden and the Jefferson County Museum which was the old Courthouse/Jail and is now a history museum.  These were fun memory making things we did that also happen to have educational value and if I needed more instructional hours for Supergirl, I could easily add in hours for history, geography and science.  We also worked on some language skills by talking about what we learned.  The fancy word might be "oral narrations" but she certainly didn't think she was doing anything other than telling me all about what she explored.

How do you work  in more learning opportunities for you and your family?  Here are just a few of the participants from the Homeschool Review Crew.  There are even more blogs to check out on the linky!

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Angie @ Run Ran Family Adventures & Learning
Annette @ A Net in Time
Ashley @ Gift of Chaos
Betty @ Let’s Get Real
Brenda @ Counting Pinecones
Carol @ Home Sweet Life
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses


Take a Look Tuesday Back to School Blog Hop with the Homeschool Review Crew

I think the greatest lesson I have learned as a homeschooling mama is to be flexible.  Being flexible isn't easy for me.  I don't like change.  I like having my road maps (i.e. lessons plans laid out for me) but I learned to love the detours.

Having a "game plan" or a "road map" at the beginning of the year, meant that I knew where I wanted to go even if we didn't finish in June.  We always schooled year around with doing more "hands on" and "fun" schooling during the summer so I gave up early on trying to squeeze 36 weeks or 1100 hours of education between September and June.

In today's Take a Look Tuesday post which is part of the Back to School  5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement Blog Hop hosted by the Homeschool Review Crew I am going to share my general road map for studying American History for the 2018-2019 school year for Supergirl.

If you're you're hopping over form another Crew member blog, let me briefly share that Supergirl is developmentally delayed, medically fragile and is asynchronous with her skills.  Socially and emotionally she functions around 4-6.  Her reading skills seem to be solidly 1st grade and but her math skills range from Kindergarten to 2nd or even 3rd grade!  She able to comprehend history and science at a 4th to 6th grade level when I read it aloud to her.  This makes  planning very difficult and often time consuming!

We'll be using TruthQuest History: American History For Young Students I (Exploration to 1800) as our road map.  This is intended for grades 1-5.

We did actually start this awhile ago with learning about Christopher Columbus.  We set it aside for a variety of reasons but we'll start back up with finishing our study of Christopher Columbus.

I have no idea how long this journey will last.  We'll take it as fast or as slow as she wants depending on her interest level and the goals we set for developing her reading and writing skills.

I'm almost afraid of touching on Leif Erickson and the Vikings discovery of America because we could end up setting aside American History and studying Vikings in-depth.  That is the beauty of homeschooling! And if we do take a detour I know that we'll eventually find our way back to the main road map.

I'll be adding in lots of hands-on opportunities with project packs and lapbooks from Home School in the Woods.  Don't tell her but I have a whole lapbook for her about Benjamin Franklin!  And we'll be making a little booklet about Christopher Columbus!  We have several of the Time Travelers such as New World Explorers,   Colonial Life, and American Revolution.

Home School in the Woods also has my favorite timeline figures so of course we'll be keeping a timeline and doing some map work too.

Ms. Miller gives lots of book suggestions for each topic in American History for Young Explorers. We may not read the exact books that she suggests  but if there is a YWAM Publishing Heroes of History book available for suggested person, we will be using as many YWAM books as we can. 

Some of the book suggestions are the same books as used in Sonlight American History which I used with the other girls so I have those.  I'm looking foward to re-reading books like A Lion to Guard Us and Pocahontas both by Clyde Robert Bulla.

Of course we'll be doing other subjects besides history but history is the easiest one for me to have a general road map and take lots of detours.

Do you need to have everything planned out in advance? Do you prefer to have a rough idea? Are you someone who is able to just wing it?

Here are just a few of the Homeschool Review Crew Members who are participating in this week's 5 Days of Back to School  Blog Hop:

Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama
Marla @ Jump Into Genius
Meredith @ Powerline Productions: Being World Changers/Raising World Changers
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Missica @ Through The Open Window
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling


Monday Motivation Homeschool Review Crew Back to School Blog Hop

I started investigating homeschooling as an education option for my family when my oldest, who was then my only, was 14 months old.  We were an active duty army family stationed in Germany and my husband was deployed to another country.  At the same time that I was introduced to home education my husband had stumbled across it.  We felt it must have been God working it out to bring us to decide together to homeschool.

That was 22 years ago.  My husband changed up his career path and we continued to be a homeschooling family. We've had 3 of our 4 daughters graduate from our home school.  I continue to home educate Supergirl who is our medically fragile, developmentally delayed special needs daughter.

As I thought about what to write for this Motivation Monday, the first day of Homeschool Review Crew's Back to School 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement Blog Hop I couldn't decide if I wanted to talk about the encouragement I've been getting from Julie Polanco's God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn or to share the whys behind my family's decision to home school. After starting two other blog posts for this topic, I've decided to go in a completely different direction and share  how I am taking what I've learned and working to apply it to this year as I home school Supergirl. I don't feel that last year was very successful.

Grab your favorite beverage, hot or cold, mine is Sugar-Free Caramel Breve hot, and let's chat!

Are there things I wish I had done differently over the years? Yes absolutely, but there have been some things that have been consistently helpful over the years.

One of the things that has been incredibly helpful is having menu plans.  During one season of our lives I had a 6 week rotating menu plan that was nearly all crock pot meals.  Years ago I blogged about creating your own rotating menu plan.  Having a set meal plan reduces stress because it reduces the amount of decisions you have to make.  It also makes building a pantry and grocery shopping easier because you don't have to think so much about the grocery list.

As life does, things change.  Setting up the rotating menu plan takes an investment of time and it does need to be tweaked as seasons change and dietary needs change.  Here are some options that have helped me at different points.

Through the Homeschool Review Crew I was introduced to e-mealz. After my subscription ran out from the review I did purchase another subscription.  But after I while it just didn't work for me anymore.  It was a huge help as I loved having something tell me what is for dinner.  It is just that I had to do too much tweaking for my family.

A friend of mine introduced me to Build-a-Menu.  The advantage of this program is that I could pick the meals and I could do breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks!  And it would create a grocery list for me.  I paid for this program for two years!  Eventually though I was finding I wasn't using it regularly enough and I let the subscription go.  It takes time to  pick the meals. Yes it saved me time and sanity in that it is far more easier to pick from list than to come up with something on my own but I was finding I needed more help with actually getting the meals from "planned" to actually "cooked" so we could eat.

I would have these fabulous menu plans so I knew what was for dinner or rather what was supposed to be for dinner.  But often I would find that I was just too tired or busy to cook and we'd end up with take out.

I rediscovered freezer cooking and that helped!  Taking time to make dinner ahead of time meant that I could plan dinner, cook dinner and eat dinner! What a concept! Even if you don't cook a month's worth of meals at time it is work looking at Freezer Cooking options such as cooking bigger batches of hamburger and freezing it in meal size portions for the base for things like tacos or spaghetti.

My current favorite meal planing site is MyFreezeEasy.com   When I take the time, when I invest the time to choose my menus and prepare some meals for the freezer I save time, energy, sanity and money!  And what I love about Erin Chase's method is it is mostly prepping things for the freezer.  That means that your chicken goes into a freezer bag with the tomatoes and olive and Greek marinade but isn't cooked until the night you want to eat it.  It is not like eating warmed over leftovers which in my early days of learning about freezer cooking a lot of recipes I had required you to cook the food and then you are reheating it and it tastes like leftovers.

I love having a freezer full of meals.  Having those meals increases the odds that I'll get school done with Supergirl and we'll have homecooked meal.  On the same day.  I don't know about you but it seemed like if I had full day of school done and laundry done we ended up with take out if I didn't have a meal in the crock pot or freezer meal to pull out.  And if I managed to cook a homemade dinner we probably didn't get much school done.

 My crock pot is still a well used appliance that helps me take those meal plans and making cooking easier!

During the more productive times, I also had a schedule and a routine.   Even with my most successful schedules and routines, we did not, not even for one day, follow the "schedule" completely.  But when we have a schedule or least a routine we accomplish so much more than we do without one.

This year with Supergirl, I really want to work on a strong routine with a looser schedule.  I'm working a schedule that has some anchor points like meal times and maybe schedule certain subjects for certain days like Science on Tuesday and Thursday but I want a solid routine that will help us work on some habits that have slipped away.

Supergirl thrives with structure and routine and I need to use that to my advantage.  She is also far more cooperative and a more pleasant human being when she has structure and consistent time with mom.

So as I gear up for this new school year I am making sure I include time to invest in freezer cooking with MyFreezeEasy and that I have a structured routine with some scheduled slots for anchors to our day.

I'm also mapping out my goals and a rough idea of what we'll be studying but I will share more about what we'll be studying tomorrow on Take a Look Tuesday!

Here are a few of the other Homeschool Review Crew bloggers who are participating this week in the Back to School Blog Hop!

Nicole @ Bless Their Hearts Mom
Patti @ Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy
Rebekah @ There Will Be a $5 Charge For Whining
Rodna @ Training Children up for Christ
Stacy @ A Homemakers Heart
Tess @ Circling Through This Life
Wendy @ Life at Rossmont
Holly @ Gypsy Road