Showing posts with label Language Arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Language Arts. Show all posts

Monday, February 7, 2011

TOS Crew Review: VocabAhead 1000 SAT Vocabulary Videos and MP3s DVD (for computer use)

If you have a Junior or Senior High student who intends to take the SAT or ACT, brushing up on their vocabulary is a necessity.  One way to help melt the words into their memory cells, is to provide a visual along with the definition.  VocabAhead has created a program that offers 1000 of the SAT words with accompanying videos, to do just that.  The student clicks the word, then views the video whilst listening to the narrator, as they give several examples [too many in my opinion-sometimes the examples went on and on, to almost over explained it] of the definition (in sentence form).  The site also offers a Study Room, where the student can create their own word list, review the videos and share them as well.  Teachers have the option of posting the VocabAhead widget with word lists for their students (I guess as a homeschooling mom, this may not be so necessary) and the program is MP3 ready, so one could download the info into their player and take it where ever they go.

All in all, this is a good concept.  The narrators are clear speaking and the cartoons/drawings are OK.  If you have a child that thrives on visual and auditory methods for learning; the set up is conducive to this.  By simply uploading the VocabAhead SAT videos CD into one's computer, or a DVD compatible player [see requirements below], the material is ready to click on to listen to. With 1000 of the typical SAT words, the student can go through the list at their own pace, to glean the meanings-and hopefully be able to recall them (especially on test day) with ease.

Additional thoughts:

Even though this would appear to be a useful product, I discovered some things in it that simply bothered me-making it a not-so-good choice for our family. I found that on several occasions, the lines of parental respect were blurred to what can be construed as negative statements in regard to the role of the parent, and the parent"s religion vs the teen's. In one example, they chose to use the debate over abortion as the focus-which in my opinion has no business being a part of study tool on vocabulary, especially when there are many other subjects could have been used instead. I am thinking because the design crew figured they would be addressing preteens/teens, that this would be the way to go.  But being that we do not agree with that line of thought, I need to discuss this for a moment.  Of all the examples one could use to describe these words, I am flabbergasted as to why they would need to toss in some "digs" toward the parents/adults in general.  Here is an example:

The mother's bias toward her step-son caused her to totally neglect him and favor her other child; as a result of this bias, the step-son was weak and malnourished.

No, that would be child abuse and Social Services would need to be contacted. This is just a lack of good judgement on the creators' parts.  How is this a good example of the word?  Here is another snippet for you, on the word abase:

In a similar way, parents who abase their children will wind up with kids who don't think very highly of themselves.

Are you kidding me?  Why on earth does that need to be a part of this?  Regardless if they even considered the negative overtone of these statements, or to the necessity of it-which I suspect they did not; it is a big part of the reason [the cost of the DVD seems a bit high to me] that I cannot recommend this.  There are plenty of other sources out there that retain their integrity by using examples that edify, and explain vocabulary without the derogatory comments.  And even though many of the words in the list do not fall under this category, I am compelled to state that I am not impressed. I guess my own BIAS against something which promotes such things is prevailing here.  You can watch several of the videos on their site; and I strongly urge you to see what my other TOS mates had to say regarding this product, before you decide if it is acceptable for your family.

(for us really a 1/2 a raft)

Need help with icons? Click Here

Visit the VocabAhead 1000 SAT info page to gain more insight regarding the material included on the CD.

VocabAhead homepage
Product available through Amazon for $24.99
jr.high/high school level
You can sign up to receive the "Word of the Day" through email; and they offer iPad/Phone apps, as well.

System Requirements (according the company):
Windows, XP, Vista or Windows 7. MAC: Intel based system. MAX, OSX, iTunes 8 or later.
512MB RAM, Sound Card, up to 4.7GB free disk space, compatible DVD-ROM player. Compatible MP3 player required for portable use.

Be sure to see what my TOS mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products, by visiting our TOS Crew Review homepage.

**VocabAhead provided me with a free VocabAhead One Thousand SAT Vocabulary Videos and MP3 CD to use and enjoy with my family, so that I could write this review. I did not receive any further compensation (product wise or financially) for my honest opinion of this product.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Vocabulary Cartoons Book

Before I pen much more here, I need to do some defining (just in case you honestly never heard the correct term-although I am sure you have used one or two in your lifetime) of the basic premises for this review item. 

Do you know what a mnemonic is? 

Basically a mnemonic is some sort of device; whether it be a picture, song or silly rhyme-that is used to help one remember something else, such as a historical date, or scientific notation or yes-even a vocabulary word.

So now that we have the whole mnemonics thing all figured out, we can discuss the Vocabulary Cartoons book I was sent to review.  Now I am sure many can probably figure out what it's main purpose is, but alas-I felt it necessary to draw a picture with some words to explain it....[mind you, I have two words on this example, but you only get one per page in the book. To condense and shorten the situation-I did a 2 for 1 special. Also, since my computer does not have those fancy above the letter signs-I added how one should say these words properly after the phonetic pronunciation notation, just for clarification.]. This is typical of how the book is laid out.  So without further ado:

(vo kab' ya ler e) n.
 [the o and the last e should be said using the long vowel sounds] 
a list of words or phrases a person frequently uses
Sounds like:  VOLE CAB + YOU + LARRY

(kar tuns') n.
 [the ar and u should be said as "r" and "oooo" like an owl]
a likeness of a real situation, animal, person, or place
-usually drawn or animated by a series of pictures
Sounds like:  CAR TUNES

"A VOLE CAB with YOU and LARRY sped along, while the silly CAR TUNES played; so you could truly understand what a VOCABULARY CARTOONS book is for."

  • We had a VOCABULARY test on Friday, after recess.
  • The little boy watched CARTOONS all day and never went out to play.
  • Using the VOCABULARY CARTOONS book is a great way to learn new words.
Yes folks-there really are critters called "voles". See the *** for copyright info.
Wasn't that fun?  Just an example of how this gem works. And talk about a creative way to memorize those pesky words that can leave you tongue tied or (yes, I have been know to pull this trick off a time or two) doing a quick inspection of the ole memory cells to find a "replacement" word, because the truly needed one is well-MIA. 

We decided that we would select two words a week, to see just how effective this concept is.  Not that I hadn't heard of this technique, or tried it here and there, during the many years we've homeschooled-I just never really found anything we particularly liked-until now.

The Vocabulary Cartoons book contains 210 words all noting the: pronunciation, grammar use, definition of it; with a word or words similar to the vocabulary term, along with a quirky picture, a sentence using both the "sounds like" and actual word,  and a couple of additional sentences that are usually silly and fun.  There are also 21 review pages scattered about in there, to help the child refresh their memories with what they have been learning.  In my opinion-I see this as a world view source-which may be an issue with some of you. Especially those of you who prefer to avoid things which depict skeletons, ghosts, some other "scary" images [and there is also one with "Jason", the character from the Halloween movies that were so popular in the 80s and 90s-but obviously, if you child has never seen that-they wouldn't "get" the connection].  I felt this needed to be mentioned, so you can make a decision based on what best suits your family.  I counted about 13 pictures that could be deemed "less than favorable".  We just skipped those, and moved on to a different page.

Would I have purchased this for my family?  I am not sure-mainly because I find my kids tend to have a wide vocabulary range due to the immense amount of literature we read, and wouldn't ordinarily have vocabulary skill curriculum at the top of my "to get" list.  I do find it to be a fun way to infuse the words into their tender gray matter and since we have it, we'll use it. The children have enjoyed the word(s) to pictures concept, and my son (who is in the target range for this level) was able to recall some of the info we have discussed so far.  This is actually a better fit for my teen-since she leans toward the visual way to learn.  As for my son, well-since he is more tactile and less visual, we'll have to wait and see if it is a good fit or not.  Regardless-we can enjoy it and will continue to go through it this year.

Now, if you have a child who does not enjoy reading "living" literature or much of anything-this could be a great way to introduce a slew words to increase their vocabulary collection. Or if they need a different way to cement those words into their heads, the Vocabulary Cartoons may be the perfect solution for them.  

My best advise, is to peek at the sample before buying.
And for the more detailed-oriented purchaser, check out the complete list of words used in book.

***Please note- albeit a poor rendering- Larry the Cucumber is a registered and copyrighted image belonging to Big Idea, Inc. I have no claims of being a part of their art department team, or serving as a spokeswoman for their company.  And no "silly songs" were song by Larry, whilst riding in the Vole Cab.

if your child has adequate reading skills-otherwise, you'll need to assist.

Need help with icons? Click Here

New Monic Books, Inc.

Vocabulary Cartoons:  $12.95  PB
3-6 grade level
volume purchase discounts available

Don't forget to visit our TOS Crew Review Homepage to see what my crewmates had to say aboutthis and many other fine homeschool products.

***New Monic Books, Inc. provided me a free copy of the Vocabulary Cartoons book, to read through, test out-and enjoy with my family-so that I could write this review.  I did not receive any financial compensation for my honest and mnemonic review of this product.

Friday, March 5, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Language Smarts C book by Critical Thinking Co.

Once again, Critical Thinking Press has impressed me with their classy materials.  The Language Smarts C book is one of the nicest workbooks I have come across.  The pages are so nice, with highly colored graphics, and superior paper quality-I almost hate to have the boy write on them!  

This book, second in the Language Smarts Series, is designed to give your typical 2nd grader [in my opinion up to the end of 3rd grade] the practice and at times, introduction to several language arts material that most kids that age should be exposed to.  For us, it served as some good workbox activities.  The best part was that I could thumb through the worktext, to find a section I figured was something we needed to discuss or that I could tie into our main studies-which simply put, means that each section is not necessarily interdependent on the others.  We are working on maps and so the Following Directions section came in most handy, not to mention that he just loves to do those type of activities anyway-so win/win for both of us.  My son enjoys riddles, so the Rhymes and Riddles section was a lot of fun for him as well.  We will continue to pull out pages to address his  language skills as we move along in our studies.  And [huge bonus here] I can revisit them when needed, because I have the license rights to photocopy the pages for my students in my home [if you are using it for a classroom situation-you have the license rights to make copies for the students in your class]...which in this money crunched economy, I greatly appreciate.  

Just to give you a snippet of what it has stuffed in between the covers: sections addressing Following/Writing Directions, Alphabet activities, Common Phrases/Mnemonics/Palindromes, Vowels/Consonants, Syllables, Rhymes/Riddles, Compound Words, Contractions, High Frequency/Word Famillies, A or An practice, Was/Were, Me/I, Nouns/Pronouns, Synonyms/Antonyms, Homonyms/Homographs, Suffixes/Prefixes/Root words, Sequencing/Ordering, Comparing/Contrasting, Subjects/Predicates, Capitalization/Punctuation, Writing/Editing, Prediction/Settings/Characters, Topics/Main Ideas, Cause/Effect, Poems, Fiction/Non-Fiction, and on and on.  Whew!  

So if you need a core product to help you introduce/address the material,  or just need an occasional supplemental worksheet to help reinforce these subjects, then this is a great way to provide just that.   Even if you dislike the whole worksheet-only thing [category I usually fall into]; you can still offer up some fun, focused activities by sprinkling a page or two here or there, into your lessons when they just need a bit of refreshing in said subjects.   

And because I have had the pleasure of reviewing this company's products before, I have a whole 'nother ditty discussing the Thinking Skills: Figural and Verbal Workbooks [Jr/HS level] for you to read too.

Need help with icons? Click Here

Critical Thinking Company Homepage

Language Smarts C-this is a Core Curriculum Solutions product. They do offer subject [core] packages to help you school your children.  See their Core Curriculum description page for more details.

$39.99 for the student text (again, with photocopy rights for your children/classroom)
*Teacher's Answer Key is available on the web for download.

Be sure to check out what my TOS mates have to say about this, and many other fine homeschooling products on our TOS Review Crew Homepage.

***Critical Thinking Company provided me with a free copy of the Language Smarts C workbook, to use, test and enjoy with my family. I have provided my opinion on the product, and did not receive financial compensation for this review.

Monday, February 15, 2010

TOS Crew Review: AAS Beehive Reader I- Cobweb the Cat- from All About Reading Press

 OK folks-this series (the All About Spelling) ranked number one in my top 10 choices for last year's products, so I couldn't be more pleased to have received and to discuss this latest addition to their line up.  Now if you are unfamiliar with AAS, then please read my review discussing the actual spelling program to truly get a good idea of what it is, then come back to read up on the Beehive Reader I from All About Reading Press.

I purposely held off on purchasing this reader when I saw that it was newly released last year...but the wait was worth it-as I am so tickled to have this book.  Designed by Marie Rippel, artwork by Renee LaTulippe-this was created not only to tie into the first level of the AAS program, but to prevent several issues that accompany a beginner reader.  Since Marie has a child who is dyslexic, she understands the need for some helpful and almost necessary "must haves" that readers should display to help assist the budding reader.  The hard-backed book just beckons one to open it [not to mention that is will last for generations because of this fine quality], then continues to entice with its softly-yellowed paper, which reduces the glare that those shiny, white pages usually produce.  Right away, the etchings of delightful characters draw the child [well anyone within eye-shot of this book] into the story. Careful attention was given to the actual scene on the pages,  to avoid the mistake many, many beginning readers make-the giving away of  the sentences, due to a very specifically related picture to the words penned just below.  One thing that bothers me when I am working with my child, is that he will try to "read" a word by jumping his eyes up to the picture to "solve" the mystery-rather than take the time to work through the difficult word. I do not have to cover the illustration to solve this annoying habit, because Marie and Renee deliberately included pictures which offer a hint of what they are reading about, yet do not "spill the beans" all over the page for the struggling student to easily decipher.  Another issue is the left to right tracking, and so to solve that-there are teeny dots under the words of the sentence to assist the child with the correct flow of the sentence. Or in our case, the jumping down to one row and back up, because he is struggling to keep his eyes on one sentence at a time.

I cannot say enough good things about this reader!  Even my husband-who admittedly is more of an observer of our daily schooling goings on-couldn't help but comment several times on how nice of a reader the AAS Beehive book is, or notice the beautiful artwork contained within it.  My son gets all excited to read in his "chapter book" and I, for once-don't dread the experience because with this-it is actually a pleasurable activity.  Once again-another fabulous product from the wilds [of imagination and talent that is] of Wisconsin!  Thank you Marie!

If you have been using the All About Spelling curriculum, or will be-you can visit this link: Correlation info for reader to AAS levels, so you have a better understanding of when you can introduce the Beehive Reader to your child.

Need help with icons? Click Here

Oh! If you use workboxes-I have the first two levels of the AAS books broken down into "what to pack into the workbox" for each step. That way you can load and go.  Saves you the time hunting for each individual tile/card sets and makes prepacking a breeze (this is especially helpful if you are like me and do not have permanent space to keep the tiles/info when not in use).  Visit my Scribd pages for the documents, and my What's in the Box? blog, for more info regarding this.

Beehive Reader I info now retitled Cobweb the Cat (as of April 1, 2010)
$19.95 Hardback

AAS homepage

Visit our TOS Review Crew Homepage for more information about this, and many other fine homeschooling products.

***All About Reading Press/AAS provided me with a free copy of the Beehive Reader I, to use, test and enjoy with my family. I have provided my opinion on the product, and did not receive financial compensation for this review.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services

When I first learned that we'd be reviewing something from Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services-I was a bit confused. Was it a place to obtain tests, to see if your child is in need of some special attention in certain areas, or what? After a wee bit of investigation, I had my answers. EDUDPS provides just what I thought it did, and more!

They offer 3 different diagnostic tests, 2 guides on learning issues (Dyslexia and Attentional Difficulties), grade placement screening, and 4 different (well 2 are co-related) curricular programs to aid you in educating your child(ren). I was in the batch that was fortunate to receive all of the eBooks noted below. Problem is, I simply do not have enough time to thoroughly investigate each of them, during our review period. So, I chose the eBook that spoke to me the most; and then briefly investigated the others-so that I could give a brief description of them. So please be aware-the Quick Review icons near the bottom are only for the Write with the Best Volume 2 eBook. I simply cannot give the others a rating yet, and won't until we use them.

To make it easier, I will cover the 3 we peeked at; then wrap it up with the Write with the Best Vol. 2 (which is what we focused on).

First in our lineup is the Roots and Fruits Guide. This is designed to slowly add some 1700+ words to your child's vocabulary before they graduate. This encompasses all grades, K-12; so it truly is a great investment (eBook: $14.98, pages w/o binding: $17.48, pages with comb-binding: $19.98), considering it can be used for the entire expanse of your child's education. What I instantly liked about this (and it will be the second one I dive into with the kiddos) is that the vocabulary workload suggestion of 15 minutes per day, is right on target.  I can give my 2nd grader one word or so, per week to study upon. Then we will move along in a nice, non-overbearing manner- increasing as his skills do-over the years. For my teenager-I can have her work on 2 or more per week; so she is able to pack away several vocabulary words before she takes her ACT test This is geared more to hit upon the majority of the SAT vocabulary words-but you'll definitely find many of the same ones used in the ACT, and other aptitude tests-so it is a win/win learning opportunity. I also like a lot of the suggested activities with which to teach these words. It isn't just a fill out a worksheet or drill the word into your head approach-it uses more tactile and visual cues to sink these babies into their ole memory cells, and that always gets a thumbs up from me.

 I honestly do not know too many folks who couldn't use a bit of career guidance and assistance when it comes to figuring out their high school student's plan.
The Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers (eBook: $34.95, Soft bound book: $39.95) is an excellent resource for families who have children who will soon be entering, or are currently in high school, or are still trying to figure out their major in college (or possibly beyond). Seriously-can anyone say, "I dunno what I wanna be when I grow up?" I know a lot of adults who claim this as their mantra. Packed with surveys, assessments and a personality profile, the student will use those results to choose careers that match their needs. It is also designed to assist them with their high school planning, transcripts, tips on the ACT/SAT tests, and more. I see there are a lot of different types of careers discussed as well. I think this is a great place to start if you have children who will be, or are in Jr./Sr.high school. I almost chose this one to start with-but because I have gone through the motions two times already, I feel pretty confident with this area of "counseling". I decided to put this on hold until next semester for my daughter, but am looking forward to going through it with her soon.

These last two products are the co-relating curriculum I mentioned before. I tend to favor the Charlotte Mason method of dictation, narration and just good ole basics for teaching younger kids how to express themselves. Realizing that more formal skills will also need to be covered at some point (especially due to the more competitive business world we live in) I tend to "save" all the heavier stuff  for the higher grades. The series is designed to teach grades 3rd through 12th, and can be started at any time during those years.

Be sure to visit our TOS Crew Homepage, because several of my mates chose to focus on the Write with the Best Volume 1 Guide, (eBook: $19.95, printed pages w/o binder: $22.45, printed pages with 3-Ring binder: $24.95) which I did not. Basically, this level jump starts the elementary-aged child into the wonderful world of writing. I see the chapters consist of such things as Writing Descriptive Paragraphs, Describing Objects, Places and Character, Writing a Dialogue, Short Story, Fable, Friendly Letter, Rhyming Verse, Ballard or Narrative Poem, with additional guides, check lists, grading information, and the Student's "How to Write Guide". The Write with the Best Volume 1 Guide is designed to address the needs of children in grades 3-12 (all though, from glancing through it; I would say that unless your older child has had no writing experience, this is a better fit for the 3-7th grade), and can also be used for covering particular areas your student is struggling with or to introduce those areas they have had no prior exposure to.

The Write with the Best Volume 2 Guide (eBook: $24.95, pages w/o binder: $27.45, pages with 3-Ring binder: $29.95)-written for students in grade 6-12.  This guide addresses the following: Writing Poetry, Business Letters, Note Taking, Essays, Literary Critique, Book Reviews, Newspaper Articles, Speech, and Dramatic Monologue. It also includes the student's "How to Write Guide", additional literary passages (for extra work), an answer key for the student's work, a grading guide and more. The pages are non-cluttered visually (just text); which makes for easy printing, and is better for keeping the child focused on the task at hand. If your student thrives on extra goodies, it may not be a good fit. For my daughter-it is perfect because it is to the point, with clear instructions on what is expected work for her to accomplish each day. The discussed passages are included in the study, so there is no running around to find it. So far we have covered the Poetry, Business Letter and are starting the Note Taking sections. What I like is that I can pretty much just give her a list telling her what I want her to do, and she can take it from there. Not to say, that I never helped her with any of it-because at times a wee bit of discussion helped her out; but for the most part this is a self-sufficient study. The layout and design is reminiscent of the school books that taught our grandparents the ins and outs of scholarly subjects, which I prefer for Jr./Sr. high students. My daughter likes that the assignments are bite-sized nibblets which prevent her from becoming overwhelmed; and that makes for a teen who is willing to actually push through and finish the book.  So all in all-I am pleased with the Write with the Best Volume 2, and  and recommend it to other families with students in the upper grades.

Write with the Best Volume 2 Rating (only) listed below:

Need help with icons? Click Here


Please be aware-you can only print these 2 times (due to the security file it comes on)-therefore, you will need to print it in its entirety. I suggest that you check to be sure your ink/paper reserves are fully loaded and that you have time to focus on the printing before starting it. I have highlighted a link below where you can read more about this. I actually was quite frustrated when I first printed the Roots and Fruits eBook. I ran out of ink, and was ill-prepared to start such a task. I have one more printing allowance and will use it wisely this time-getting it done at a local copy shop. I really wanted to be sure to stress this situation to you, to avoid any irritation-station moments.  The best way to avoid the eBook limitation, is to purchase the print copy of the books-the price difference is minimal, and frankly it's the route I would suggest (especially if you have dial up service). If you have any questions regarding the process, do not hesitate to ask, as they are quite helpful at EDUDPS, and strive to make your experience a positive one.
Q and A section

Need to try it out before committing? Well, EDUDPS has 4 free downloads to whet your appetite. And please continue reading down the page-it has vital information regarding the printing policies.

EDUDPS Homepage
All prices are listed next to the description of the books.  Geared for grades K-12. 

Be sure to see what my fellow TOS Mates have to say about this and other great homeschooling products.

**EDUDPS provided me with one free copy each of Roots and Fruits, Write with the Best I and II and The Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers eBooks, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.

Monday, March 16, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting Manual with CD Rom, and Fix-It...Write

With all the handwriting programs out there-how is one to know which to choose from? It isn't easy, in fact-it can be down right daunting. When I first started homeschooling, I found one I really love. It is Italic based and for the most part, my kids have decent handwriting from using it. Notice, I said "most part" because with all things, folks (and that includes children) tend to morph their handwriting into their own style. That little trait tends to lend itself to some nasty looking stuff if someone doesn't rein them in. My eldest son had the most beautiful handwriting until he hit 5th grade and then, well-it turned south. I frankly wonder what happened and how I could have reversed this. My eldest daughter writes well, but sometimes I need spectacles that magnify to read it. My middle child has intertwined printing and handwriting to her own style and so-like mother like daughter-you just never know what you'll get! That leaves my baby, who luckily may be saved from this somewhat neglected issue. He is just in the throws of practicing handwriting, and now that I have the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting program-I can set him on the road to legible handwriting for life.

Now I had never heard of this particular program, so I was very excited to receive this to review. I also requested the Fix-It...Write for the reasons listed above-we need help with our handwriting! The basic set contains a lovely, spiral bound manual with very clear and precise instructions on how to achieve this style of handwriting. Not only does it take me step by step through the process of teaching it, it offers many different ways to practice. The best part is the CD Rom you upload and use to gain teaching tips, steps for the levels and printable worksheets to practice. I love how I can move worksheet choices that fit what we are working on, into the "My Pages". It simplifies the printing process for me and anything that makes things easy-is a welcomed friend in our home.

This style is so beautiful and very easy to read-two extremely important issues when considering a handwriting program. It reminds me of Calligraphy mixed with Italic with a sprinkle of class. What is so brilliant about it is that it is easy to learn! I decided to back the bus up a tad to start my boy on the Intro Level, then I added a splash of the First Level lessons in after he had the basic strokes down. With the BFH, you can skip around a bit betwixt levels [recommended by the author] so your child will not be bored. I love the pictures that contain the basic quick strokes for practice-they capture my son's interest (and mine)and keep it. I am partial to the rooster actually, as he is quite the character. We are thoroughly enjoying the entire process, and will continue to use this until we have achieved our best handwriting.

As for the Fix-It...Write program, well here is something I need for a few of my family members-including myself. I was taught the usual style and frankly never liked it, so I tweaked it to fit me, but now I have a mixed blend of print/Italic and Classic handwriting, which when in a hurry, turns to the dreaded "chicken scratch" most cannot read-including me. The lovable part of the BFH Fix-It is how it is set up to compliment your current style, and offers two lesson sets-one using those who tend to use the Italic style more;, and for those who favor the Conventional way to write. The Fix-It program is designed to take the student (of any age), through at least 2 weeks worth of material. The end result is a lovely blend of style, and clarity that was otherwise lacking.


Because BFH is a print as needed program, you will have some time, and expense using your printer. One money saving solution is to print one practice sheet of whatever it is you want to work on-say, the fluency sheets and the alphabet practice sheets (one for upper and one for lower), then laminate it (not as spency as one would think, if you buy a 50 pack of sheets, they are only 20 cents each-and be sure to put 2 papers per sheet). Then once laminated, use a washable Vis-a-Vis marker on it. That way the student can practice 'til the cows come home, all the while saving trees, and your money. Once they have practiced it enough to be able to write it out nicely, offer up a couple of the pages to do in pencil. Or use lined paper-either way you are not devouring ink, and paper each time a child practices.

My son loves the laminated sheets, not only because the pen flows over it nicely; but because it is an excuse to use his mini-squirt gun (to zap it with water for erasing)...ah, boys! Gotta love em.

Need help with icons? Click Here

Product Insight

The BFH Manual comes with two different CDs-one for Windows application, and the other for MAC. You load up whichever applies, and go from there. The actual guide itself is non-consumable, so, you can use this one program for all your children. Because you have a CD Rom, you can print as much as needed, for as many students you will educate in your home.

The Fix-It...Write comes ready to pop into a 3-ring binder. You would use one per person, since this is consumable. It comes with the instructions to correct your C.S. [chicken scratch] tendencies, a supply list to complete your mission, and it even contains some practice sheets as well.

The BFH font can be purchased and down loaded onto your computer-that way you can create all sorts of documents, flashcards, extra writing sheets and so forth for your children. I am planning on using it to reinforce reading and seeing the handwriting style as often as possible.

I only have two minor complaints about this particular program. When using the CD, there appears to be no back button, so it takes a bit longer to navigate. That would be a nice addition [I have received word from the author and her computer tecs that they are considering adding that in a future revision] I had to go the long way around to get where I needed to be-but it is minor, so I will survive. Also, the font you download-there seems to be missing components (IE: several punctuation and additional niceties like dashes, the star and others) which make the process of producing additional resources, for the children, difficult. I want to be able to use this font to make copy work sheets, flashcards, type up Bible verses, and so forth-but with those missing pieces-I cannot always achieve the look I want. I am trying to see if I missed something there, but either way-I can still use it for many, many projects.

Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting Homepage
$65.95 for BFH Manual and CD Roms (encompasses everything you need to teach this)
$17.95 for Fix-It...Write Manual
they also have desk strips available for .25 each
and don't forget-to be able to create your own worksheets, flashcards and whatnot-you'll need the font download ($25)
Beginners HWing- $29.95
without the TE for Beginners-$20.00

Be sure to visit our TOS Crew Review Homepage for more reviews on this and many other wonderful products.

**Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting provided me with the free copy of the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting Manual/CD Rom Set, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.