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As Homeschoolers braving the forests of educating our children ourselves, there are often dark, scary areas where our children need help such as learning disabilities, deafblindness, attention problems, and speech problems to name a few. All too often we can’t afford the help provided by private groups and public schools may have less than stellar departments or reluctant to help despite special education guidelines mandating them to offer such services. A few specialists in certain fields now are offering their expertise to homeschoolers seeing an untouched market waiting to be tapped. One specialist in the field of speech and language pathology, Deborah Lott has developed a tool to help parents assess their children’s speech and language development, as well as, help for minor issues that can be done by the parent at home. The result is Super Star Speech: Speech Therapy Made Simple.

To begin with, Ms Lott stated accurately who this book is for: children with just a few minor articulation issues. The book was not intended for children with major language delays or language problems such as stuttering or for children with a physical problem such as hearing impairment, cleft palate, or cerebral palsy. For those children, Ms. Lott highly recommends diagnosis and remediation be done by a trained speech-language pathologist. The program is begun with an articulation assessment that is easy to administer and evaluate. The tools are simple and easy to see without having distracting elements. During analysis of the initial test, complete instructions are given that are easy to follow in order for you to identify the specific sounds your child has difficulty. Therapy plans are also well described and easy to develop including day to day lesson plans that are individual for each child. There are no specific lesson plans for you to follow. You have to develop them for your individual child because every child’s needs are different; however, Ms. Lott’s detailed steps of instruction make the process easy to follow. She provides specific sound instructions including the correct way to make the sound with proper placement of the tongue, movement of the lips, etc. Steps are given to help you teach the child to perform the necessary movements to produce the sound correctly. There is a word list for each sound to allow for thorough and appropriate practice. Games and activities have also been provided to make the learning fun.

Super Star Speech seems to be a good tool for helping children with minor articulation issues. The printed book costs $22.95 for 3-ring binder, $18.95 for a spiral bound, and $12.95 for an E-book version. For a limited time, my readers can get readers a 20% discount on this or any of the other books from www.superstarspeech.com. The discount code, which will be good until June 30, is “TOS.” The peace of mind for many parents will make the cost of the program more than worth it.

I received a free copy of the spiral bound book, Super Star Speech: Speech Therapy Made Easy, to evaluate and write this review. I received no other compensation, and the opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

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Castles, knights, dragons, chivalry, and all the elements of a fantasy attract children of all ages. Many of these elements are harmless entertainment, but there are some elements which many parents wish to keep from their children. Young readers are attracted to the good examples of the genre, but some are lured to the few that might be attempts to lead them into things much worse. The few Christian books in the genre have not always been on the mark of good reading. In attempting to eliminate the negative, they often ruined the positives of action and the thrill of being part of something bigger than yourself. Author Ed Dunlop has created a world that brings all the positives to life in a very real way and includes no magic or witchcraft. Through this world though, Mr. Dunlop weaves biblical truths and life lessons that can affect a young person’s heart, soul, and mind in an enriching way seldom found elsewhere.

Terrestria is a place filled with evil battling to control its citizens and lure them away from King Emmanuel. Two books from the series Tales from Terrestria came my way recently for me to write this review. The first was called The Quest for Thunder Mountain. This story reminds me a little of Pilgrim’s Progress in the sense that the character embarks on a journey and learns a lot about himself, life, and God along the way. This is a fresh story though with the quest being to find King Emanuel’s will for the character’s life. The struggle along the way is to find out if he really wants to know and if he will believe King Emanuel’s Word against all others that it will be the greatest joy to know and do the King’s will.

The Tales of the second book I read, fourth in the series though the books are more of a stand-alone tale where order doesn’t matter, The Tale of the Dragons ventures into other life lessons such as respecting your parents and staying away from temptations. The young character is this story is lured to an island not far from home by the need to fit in and have friends, but the friends are not true friends and only wish him harm. The young man learns to heed his father’s words too late and finds himself a slave in a foreign land far from the safety of home. His father sells everything precious to him and risks his life more than once to find the wayward son and bring him home.

These lessons are brought to life so vividly and the stories were so captivating that it was hard to put down. Several children and I went through these two together. I think the lessons made an impact on us all including me. Ed Dunlop’s heart is truly seen when he states that, “If just one young person reads this book and realizes the wisdom of bonding with his or her parents and avoiding the deadly dragons of our treacherous society, it will have been worth every hour I spent in the writing of this book”. I wish I had found this kind of book when I was young. I think at least some of the bad I got into might have been avoided.

Mr. Dunlop has not made any versions of his books accessible for special needs except possibly a few groups by the use of e-books for a select number of his free works. That would allow some learning disabled students and hearing blind to use the Adobe Reader text to speech option. However, I hope to encourage him here to consider using http://www.bookshare.org and/or the National Braille Press to offer his wonderful books to various special needs populations. Either or both of these organizations will respect his rights as author, but allow special needs students including deaf, blind, and deafblind as well as learning disabled and other special needs populations to benefit from his skills of bringing faith lessons to all.

To learn more about this series and the companion series, Terrestria Chronicles, go to http://www.talesofcastles.com. Each of the books is available for $7.99 which is a great price for a quality paperback book. Ed Dunlop also has some free e-books he wrote available for download on the web site.

I received two books free in order to write this review, but I was not compensated in any other way. The opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

I I have heard many parents say I wish I had the old textbooks back when they knew how to write a textbook. Those old textbooks are difficult to find and even more difficult to find in good condition. Dollar Homeschool has provided a series of textbooks that are definitely from days gone by. The Eclectic Series was used between 1865 and 1915 as the exclusive curriculum for schools in the United States. The books are definitely written in the time when things were detailed, elegant, and concise.

 Included in the Eclectic series are the subjects of Grammar, History, Reading, Math, and Science. All of the books are in the .pdf format. One of the best known sets of books available is the McGuffey series. It has long been held as a true classic. Also available is Ray’s Arithmetic, White’s Arithmetic, Norton’s Elements of Physics, Norton’s Elements of Chemistry, Norton’s Elements of Natural Philosophy, Cromwell’s History, and many others. You will find something for every subject and age level that covers the topics in a style that can’t be found today.

 Accessibility for the most part is limited not by the textbooks themselves, but by the technology needed to present them for use today. The .pdf format is unsecured which would normally allow accessibility equipment to use the material either directly or copied into another accessible program, but the .pdf sources were pictures derived from the scanning in of the documents. Accessibility equipment needs text in most cases. Optical Character Recognition or OCR is the only way to get text from scanned images. That might be possible here, but the condition of the original texts may have made this too difficult of a process. For many of my readers and for me, this makes these incredible sources useless for the most part. However, for those who can use them and love the teaching styles of these old texts, Dollar Homeschool has delivered a good product for you to use.

 Yyou can get the entire Eclectic series for $159.99 on CD and for a limited time, you can get free shipping. To get a much better idea, go to http://www.dollarhomeschool.com.

 I was provided a copy of the entire Eclectic series for the purpose of writing this review. I was not compensated in any other way, and the opinion is entirely my own.

Finally there is a homeschool manual!
Have you ever wished there were some instructions to homeschooling your child? Now Terri Johnson of Knowledge Quest, Inc. has done just that with her Homeschooling ABC’s. In approximately 26 lessons (I wonder why?), she helps you find a curriculum, set up your classroom, write lesson plans, do labs, find resources, give assessments, evaluate your student’s progress, and your school year with other special topics along the way. You can’t find a better set of suggestions anywhere much less in one place.
The lessons are all in .pdf format easily read by Adobe Reader which is a free download. Ms. Johnson writes clearly and dynamically to give any new homeschooler the confidence they need to begin their first year, but she has so much good information and helpful hints that even an experienced homeschooler will learn a thing or two! Following the guidelines is easy. She has also provided many resources and given many helpful hints on how to find your own as the years go by.
We at Wynfield Christian Academy were so impressed that we have added it to our required Parent/Mentor Development classes for beginning homeschoolers enrolling in our umbrella program. We are also making it available for credit for our other more experienced homeschoolers simply because it is full of such good, useful information.
If you want to reduce the stress of your homeschooling life, check out http://www.HomeschoolingABCs.com.

The Old School House magazine has done it again! The SchoolHouse Planner is the perfect help for a homeschooling family. You will find plenty of useful pages in this planner.  The SchoolHouse Planner has large, two–page, monthly calendars for planning, helpful articles, classroom resource items, easy recipes, and more.

This planner is packed with wonderful information, calendars, and forms, but if you can’t find it quickly when you need it even a perfect calendar or form won’t help and can even slow you down. Whether you print it or use it digitally, everything is right at your fingertips for planning and day-to- day use during those hectic teaching moments. The organization has three overall sections: monthly calendars and resources for each month, homeschool forms, and household forms. The planner begins with everything you need for your summer planning such as a full calendar for the years 2008 and 2009 and a list of holidays for the school year. Each month of the year spanning across the school year from July 2008 to June 2009 has the two-page layout calendar for planning, a different teaching resource item, an article on homeschooling tips or home management, resources available for purchase for the Old School House store, and two wonderful recipes. This format makes it easy to have everything at your fingertips.

Using this format, finding the features are definitely easy and a few of those features really stand out. One is the resource supplement for each month. A few included are an inventions timeline, the Periodic Table of Elements, Famous Composers, and Kitchen Measurements. These can certainly jumpstart some teaching ideas. To further augment activities that can be done with the monthly supplement, another good feature is the list of e-books and other resources available for purchase from The Old School House Store. The e-books are really good resources to help add spice to any program and to have them listed where you can review them quickly online while planning is wonderful. Lastly to mention, though certainly not all of the features, is the large number of forms for both homeschool and household purposes. You will find every form needed to fulfill almost any state’s record keeping requirement such as annual goals, course of study, test scores, field trip information, craft activities, books read, etc. You will find neat forms that you might not have thought of either (unless you are a frequent reader of The Old School House magazine) such as an audio/video log, co-op information, curriculum and vendors list, and unschooling. Household chore lists, financial information, pet health information, and a loaned and borrowed list are just some of the household forms provided. There is a wealth of usable information and resources here all in one easy to find place.

In addition, one of the best things about all of these resources is that it is in an e-book or Adobe .pdf format. Unlike a print-only format, the ways to use this planner are numerous. The planner can be printed in whole or part. You can use it totally on the computer, too. You can type in your information and print out what you need if and whenever you want. You can even use the “save as” function to allow you to plan as a teacher and then allow your students to use the blank calendars and several of the forms for their own planner. E-books are so versatile. They can take the drudgery out of planning.

Well, drudgery is a thing of the past with The Old School House Planner. The staff did an excellent job planning their 2008-2009 School House Planner. It has everything you need to do the job right and easily.

 

For more information, go to http://www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/index.php.  

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