Check out the terrific review of Beowulf’s Grammar at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s website!
Cathy Duffy reviewed Beowulf’s Grammar!
“Author Jennifer Guest’s goal is to make grammar more enjoyable for children to learn. For Beowulf’s Grammar, she has created a family that is featured throughout the book: siblings Abigail, Henry, and Grace plus the family dog, Beowulf. Lessons incorporate sentences and stories involving the family, all within the context of normal family life. The content is much more relatable for homeschooling families than the typical content of grammar books designed for classroom use. In addition, cartoons, colorful illustrations, fun graphics, cut-and-paste activities, games, puzzles, drawing activities, and occasional silliness make the course more appealing than traditional grammar courses.”
…so says the venerable Cathy Duffy Cathy who is best known as a curriculum specialist. Ms Duffy is the author of the two-volume Christian Home Educators’ Curriculum Manual where she researched curriculum and methodology for all subjects and all grade levels.
We are very pleased that Cathy said so many nice things about Beowulf’s Grammar and the attendant curriculum and workbook.
Please check out Ms. Duffy’s review as linked below, and remember, for a few more days you can still take advantage of our special Easter discount by using our 15 percent off coupon for purchases of anything in the GuestHollow Store (http://guesthollow.com/store/)! The coupon code, (which will be good ONLY for this week), is:
If you enter “ easterdiscount2018 “ when doing a checkout on the GuestHollow store anytime during the next week, you will receive a 15 percent discount on your ENTIRE order!
Check out Duffy’s review below!
Our new language arts program is ready for purchase!
Our language arts program is unlike any other language arts program I’ve seen! Be one of the first to check it out and get your kids to love language arts!
Guest Hollow Language Arts is engaging, contains customizable elements to make a great fit for all types of learners, and approaches language arts subjects through diverse and colorful resources instead of a pile of boring workbooks.
Our language arts schedule is a little different than most homeschool language arts curricula in a variety of ways. Some of the key differences:
❤ It can be used for a variety of ages and grades, from grade 2 through grade 6. This means you can teach multiple students at once without having to use (or pay for) multiple language arts programs!
❤ It uses literature and a variety of books to teach concepts rather than tons of boring workbooks.
❤ It provides (optional) teacher education with parent/teacher reading assignments and articles to help YOU become a more informed homeschool teacher.
❤ It gently guides you into making your own curriculum-related decisions, so you can feel more confident doing things “your” way in future years.
❤ It’s flexible, so you aren’t locked into a set of books that doesn’t work for your student.
❤ Tried-and-true traditional methods are incorporated in the program mixed with fresh and fun new ways of learning things to reach a variety of learners – from the gifted to the reluctant!
Check it out here: http://www.guesthollow.com/homeschool/english/language_arts.html
I just finished an illustration for livingpageslibrary.com (coming soon!). YES, I also do illustrations for “hire!” If you or someone you know is looking for an illustrator, keep me in mind!
In other news, I am a couple of weeks or so away (hopefully) from finishing my brand new language arts curriculum schedule for grades 2-6. I’m really happy at how it’s coming along. It schedules in Beowulf’s Grammar as a grammar spine as well as lots of other colorful books that cover L.A. subjects without workbook drudgery! The subjects included are grammar, writing, spelling, vocabulary, poetry, and literature – all done Guest Hollow style!!
One of the terrific things about this program is that it’s truly adaptable for grades 2-6, so you can use it with more than one student at the same time without having to juggle separate programs and resources. It’s also creative, unique, and appropriate for all types of learners, even those who are reluctant writers with an aversion to picking up a pencil, lol…
If your kids don’t love language arts or aren’t as successful in that area as you’d like them to be, you’ll want to take a look at Guest Hollow’s Language Arts Level 1 (grades 2-6) in the next couple of weeks or so! I can’t wait to share more soon!
If you have a reluctant writer, you know that getting your child to get even a sentence down on paper can be an exercise in extreme frustration for you both! I explored lots of different ways to get the not-so-enthusiastic writer in my family to write, and one thing I found that worked was to have him write letters! I arranged for my son to write letters to everyone from the president, to family members, to restaurants. He worked hard to get his letters just right and was always excited to get a response tucked in our mailbox. Over the years we saved the letters he received back, and some of them will always be treasures, like the letters from his beloved grandfather who has since passed away.
While working on my up-and-coming language arts curriculum, I was looking for some books to get students writing in a creative way and stumbled across Happy Mail. I will be adding it to my curriculum schedule in the writing assignments. The writing portion of my curriculum is being designed to be a gentle, non-pressure introduction to writing for grades 2-6. I’m taking my experiences with students who both LOVE and HATE to write and incorporating these into my book and resource choices.
Happy Mail is the perfect book to get kids and young teens engaged in the old-fashioned art of letter writing and card making. It starts out with an introduction to letter writing tools – all the fun stuff the artist in me loves like felt-tip pens, card stock, and even the humble black crayon. Some of the supplies call for a craft knife, so an adult will need to supervise or assist with a few of the projects.
The next section covers letter writing basics: parts of a letter, salutations, how to address an envelope, and so on. After that there is a section of simple writing prompts (perfect for kids who would otherwise stare at a blank page for hours), as well as a 30 days challenge with plenty of letter writing activities and ideas for your budding writer.
The next section covers lettering styles. Each letter style shows a complete sample alphabet and is followed by a lined practice page like this:
There are 5 lettering styles:
Paper Cut Alphabet, Brush Lettering, Open Alphabet, Ribbon Alphabet, and a Storybook Alphabet
The book emphasizes that there is no need for perfection, and kids are encouraged to add their own touches and styles to their lettering.
After playing around with some hand lettering, there are several projects that are shown in detail with all of the needed supplies listed. Some of these projects are:
Cut Paper Love Notes, a Quote Note, Emoji Note, I Love You More Than…, a List Letter, Birthday Card, Wildly Grateful Thank You Card, Salty Pretzel Sorry Card, and plenty more for a variety of occasion like holidays, congratulations, etc. There are even simple instructions on now to make a homemade envelope. I like the Letter to Your Future Self idea. It’s something I did when I was a kid, and it’s fun to look back as an adult on some of my younger self’s ideas and dreams!
The last section of the book has some pre-designed cards, notes, and templates with cute and full-color art, along with some black-and-white samples your child can color in.
Happy Mail is a good book to get your child off the computer and into the world of pens, pencils, and the excitement of sending off a letter or card the old-fashioned way!
Beowulf’s Grammar is ready to go!! We are having a 2-day sale on the Beowulf’s Grammar Bundle (both the workbook and the teacher’s manual). Get both for an amazing $30! After 2 days the sale price is going up to $35, and then, after a week, the combo will be full price ($40 – a 10% bundle discount). Get it now at this amazing deal!
Purchase the bundle here:
Want more info on Beowulf’s Grammar? Check it out at:
Say good-bye to your boring grammar curriculum! Beowulf’s Grammar makes learning grammar FUN!
Here are some screenshots of pages from my up-and-coming grammar curriculum for grades 2-6. During the 20+ years of teaching my children, I never found a grammar curriculum they or I loved. Everything was so borrrrrring and difficult to retain. Beowulf the Fox Terrier is going to change all of that….
If you’ve been looking for a new grammar curriculum, you’ll want to see this!
I’m working hard to get Beowulf’s Grammar finished by August or September of this year in time for the new school year!
It’s almost back-to-school time for those of you who don’t homeschool year round! I can’t believe how quickly the summer has flown by. Our youngest graduated this past May, so I’m not partaking in my usual summer curriculum shopping, but I thought I’d share one of the items that got a LOT of use in my homeschool over the years for those of you who are. It’s not often that I ever found one item that could literally last me years, but Startwrite is one of the exceptions. I certainly got my money’s worth from it! I hope my sharing this review will help some of you who are still putting things together for the up-and-coming school year!
Startwrite is a handwriting “worksheet wizard” that has so many applications (of which I’ll discuss more in detail later in this post). I used it from the time my kids were little and still needed to trace letters, all the way up until middle school when they still needed some handwriting practice and/or copywork.
I am a big believer in handwriting – not just neat print, but also cursive. Learning cursive has cognitive benefits that are important for learning success and brain development.
Here’s an excerpt from a NY Times article:
… learning to write in cursive is shown to improve brain development in the areas of thinking, language and working memory. Cursive handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres, something absent from printing and typing. As a result, the physical act of writing in cursive leads to increased comprehension and participation.
Another article in Psychology Today talks about the biological and psychology benefits from learning cursive:
Handwriting dynamically engages widespread areas of both cerebral hemispheres. Virginia Berninger, a researcher and professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, says that brain scans during handwriting show activation of massive regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory.
…scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn “functional specialization,” that is capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of brain become co-activated during learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.
Studies have also shown that parts of the brain needed for reading are stimulated, and that writing by hand allows children to express more ideas and to produce words more quickly than they can when typing. Good handwriting activates more regions of the brain (associated with language, memory, and reasoning), and also has been shown to help improve learning difficulties like dyslexia, enhance auditory learning, and more! You can do a Google search for more info, if you are like me and love the science behind why cursive is so important to teach.
A lot of parents think it’s O.K. to forgo the time consuming process of teaching handwriting, especially cursive, as it’s just not “needed” in this age of typing and digital communication, but I strongly disagree. I think it’s a very important part of a homeschool, and made sure my children had plenty of opportunities to practice it.
So, now that I made my case as to WHY you should teach handwriting and cursive in your homeschool, I’ll share my love for the Startwrite program! Startwrite makes it really easy to get this important skill accomplished with the least amount of difficulty and cost.
For 39.95 (as of this writing), you can get Startwrite version 6 – the newest version of Startwrite’s software program. You can instantly download it from the website and have up and running in just a matter of minutes.
If you have an older version, you may be wondering if the upgrade is worth it. I think so! Version 6 has so many nice upgrades and is so much easier to use with many more options to truly customize your handwriting and copywork printables. You can click here to see the differences in a handy table. If you already own an earlier version of the program, you can upgrade for a special price of $19.95.
Most handwriting workbooks run from about $10 to $14. Copywork books aren’t cheap either, and often you can’t find any that match exactly what you want to teach. If you have multiple children and want to have them learn and practice handwriting over several years, that can add up quickly! With Startwrite, you can make all of the handwriting sheets you will ever need for your entire family AND use it for other things like copywork for a multitude of subjects. That is a significant cost savings, plus you have the ability to totally customize what your children are writing / copying.
Before sharing how the program works and some of the great features, I’ll share some of the things I used Startwrite for in my homeschool.
- Handwriting lessons and practice
- Bible scripture copywork and memorization
- Copywork for a variety of subjects like science, history, etc.
- Spelling word practice
- Character trait pages
- Poetry memorization (copywork)
- CHP Police Explorer code memorization worksheets
- History & science notebooking – You can add in your own .jpg images to make some amazing notebooking pages!!
You can also use it to create some math pages with the clock and money fonts. See the screenshots for examples:
Various clock faces for telling time worksheets (some have a.m. and p.m. next to them to expand your options):
Coins – There are dimes, pennies, quarters, and dollars:
Counting items – There are math fonts that allow you to place numbers of items together for counting worksheets. You can get numbers in other fonts, too – not just how you see them depicted below.
Yet another option is to create phonics practice sheets. Startwrite comes with some free clip-art you can add to your worksheets in both color and black-and-white. You can also add in your own clipart and artwork by importing .jpgs, as you can in Microsoft Word and other word processing programs.
You might be wondering if Startwrite is a good fit, if you’ve chosen a specific type of handwriting to teach your child. You’ll be happy to know the program comes with most of the well-known fonts that are featured in many homeschoolers’ favorite handwriting programs like:
There are also other fonts for those of you who are homeschooling “down under” like:
- Victoria Manuscript and Cursive
- Queensland Manuscript and Cursive
- New South Wales Manuscript and Cursive
Last of all, there is a Palmer style manuscript and cursive. You also have access to your system fonts, just like any other word processing program.
Cursive fonts are a joy to work with in the program. They link up instantly and perfectly as you type with no additional steps you have to take like some other handwriting fonts or programs for sale. I personally believe Startwrite is the EASIEST program to use for linking cursive. It also does (in my opinion) the nicest job. The fonts look terrific, smooth, and sharp when printed out, without any odd connecting letters as I’ve seen in some handwriting fonts trying to approximate D’Nealian cursive and other typefaces. I’m an artist /illustrator, so I’m picky about that sort of thing. Startwrite delivers. Please note that it does look sort of pixelated and junky (at least to my eyes) in the program preview, but once you print your worksheets out, they look beautiful.
Startwrite works like most word processors with lots of options for text, adding images, and much more. Open up the program and you’ll see this (I’ve loaded a lesson template):
Along the top borders you have everything you need to get going. You can choose if you want ruled lines and can change the colors of those lines. You can choose how you want those lines to appear (baseline? descender line? top line? etc.). It’s super-easy to add in pictures and to move things around on the page. You can add in borders, highlight areas you want your kids to pay extra attention to, and more.
You can choose your font and how you want that font displayed. Some of the options you have:
- Stroke arrows
- Beginning dot – where to start writing a letter
- Letter outlines (to trace inside)
- Decision dots
- Color letters
You can also choose the intensity and shading of the dots and letters.
The possibilities are pretty much endless. You are constrained to working within Startwrite’s software program, but the program is quite robust. It also comes with a variety of practice templates for handwriting already built in – a real time saver if you are just starting to teach handwriting. There are also some terrific videos on the website to get you up and running, if you are a visual learner.
Startwrite isn’t just for little kids! You can use it for your 6th grader with the sloppy handwriting, or for a teen who needs some additional handwriting or copywork practice, but is too old for 99% of the workbooks available for that purpose. Just type up some age-appropriate practice sheets and you’re older student will be on his/her way to improving handwriting skills, or working on grammar, punctuation, or other skills that may still need a bit of “brushing up”.
Startwrite is one of those resources I think every homeschool should have. I used my copy of the software for years for all sorts of purposes and ultimately saved a lot of money. I also loved how I could easily whip up some notebooking pages that had to do with exactly what we were studying with a minimum of effort!
You can also click on the link above to get a free, fully functioning demo of the program! The above link is an affiliate link, so your purchase helps support Guest Hollow!
You can also sign up to become a Startwrite affiliate and receive 60% commission on all the sales through your blog or website. I know you homeschool moms like making a little extra $$, so I’m sharing that nifty tidbit in this review, as well. 😉
In other news, I have decided to start working on a non-math high school physics course sometime this late fall, followed by a 3 level American history program. I’ll keep everyone posted via my blog here, and over on my Facebook page!
I ordered English from the Roots Up years ago and my big kids dabbled in it. Now Rabbit is using it on a regular basis.
English from the Roots Up is a vocabulary program that teaches students in grades 2 to 12 Greek and Latin roots as well as a variety of derivatives and their definitions. 100 roots are covered (63 Latin roots and 37 Greek roots) with an average of 6 to 8 derivatives per root. That’s at least 600 definitions that are so much easier to learn and retain because students are learning the roots the words are made from! It’s also easier to figure out unknown words. If you know a word’s root, you can have a much better idea of what it might mean, even if you don’t know the full definition.
The program is really easy to use. Each page looks something like this:
Greek roots are lined in green and Latin roots are lined in red (red for the Romans?). The pictures of the cards represent the flashcards your students are supposed to create. However, many homeschoolers just use free notebooking pages and worksheets from online to accomplish the same thing. Rabbit fills out notebook pages and I create cards for her to study from. For kids who are really averse to writing or too little to write much, you can even purchase pre-made flashcards.
I really like this vocabulary program because it’s inexpensive, pretty open-ended and you can practice learning the words in a number of different ways by playing games, using flashcards, writing, reading and basically whatever works.
Here’s a game I played with Rabbit today to practice her root cards. Mr. Frog was trying to make it across the derivative cards to the root cards. If Rabbit got a word wrong, he fell off the card into the “water” and she had to start the line of cards over. If he made it all the way to the root card, Mr. Frog shared a few of his chocolate chips with her. Nothing like a little chocolate with your vocabulary!
English from the Roots Up is perfect for families with a variety of ages. It says it’s for grades 2-12 and I think that’s an accurate statement, although I’d recommend using a much slower pace for littles. Even I’ve learned a thing or two and Otter plans to make his own set of cards from the book sometime in the near future to supplement his other vocabulary studies. I LOVE the fact that the kids are learning the tools to understanding & unlocking many of the “big” and more complicated words in the English language.
After using the first volume, we plan on starting volume 2!
It covers a large assortment of Greek and Latin roots.
Learning vocabulary via roots engenders retention of word meanings.
It’s great practice for the SAT and other similar tests.
You can use it with almost any age.
It’s a very flexible program without any “busywork”.
It can be used over any time period – 1 year or so for big kids, 2 or more for younger students.
The program isn’t dumbed down for kids. It assumes they are smart enough to learn all of this, and they are!!
It requires a fair amount of writing (copying), unless you purchase the flashcards which would take away some of the efficacy of the program because writing helps you learn the material.
Very young students may not be able to read all of the big words (Rabbit needs a lot of help as many of the words are beyond her reading level).
It requires teacher participation, except for older students who can manage on their own. You can’t just sit your child down with a workbook and go do something else.
If you are looking for a change in your vocabulary lessons and something different from the usual fill in the blank boring workbook, English from the Roots Up might be worth looking into!
Here are some free resources / printables to use the program. We are using the notebooking pages & tests and I plan on using the flashcards (for the games) as soon as a get a big package of cardstock to print them out on!
Flashcards and Games
Here are some other freebies & printables to use with the program from other sources:
Printable flashcards (just features the root word – you still have to fill them out)
Many homeschoolers are drawn to materials that employ a Charlotte Mason style of learning. One text that employs that type of instruction is English for the Thoughtful Child, a gentle grammar and composition book that is simple to use with memorization assignments, oral and written compositions and practice exercises. Here’s my question though: why pay $14.95 when you can get the original for FREE?!
I’ve been on the hunt for free teaching materials and found the motherlode of freebies on Google Books. Many old texts that are coming “back into fashion” in the homeschool world are free for the taking (er, downloading). English for the Thoughtful Child is one of these, also known by its original title Lessons in the Use of English.
I do understand why someone might want to purchase the updated version of the book. The “new” book is printed in a workbook style that you can directly write in. Some of the original text has been added to and revised (or so it appears) and the formatting has been changed to a more modern layout. You also don’t have to print any pages out and have the convenience of being able to hold a book in your hand. I commend the person who revised and edited the original in an effort to bring this quality text to homeschoolers who would otherwise never have known this book existed. If you want to hold this book in hand instead of fussing over a digital version, you can purchase it from Amazon.
However, I personally prefer the original book’s layout & look and if your child has access to a computer, tablet or e-reader there is really no need to purchase a physical book (that has to compete with your already overloaded bookshelves). Just buy an inexpensive composition book for any written exercises and you are good to go!
Take a look at a comparison of the new text and the old.
Click on this link and open up the Amazon preview in a new browser page so you can see a preview of the new text. Scroll through the table of contents until you see lesson 1.
Here is the same material from the original book:
Now scroll down in the Amazon preview to page 2.
Here is the same material from the original (notice it’s missing the “exercise 2 in the new version and moves directly to lesson 2, which is on page 3 of the new version.
I think the old version is more friendly looking and best of all, it’s FREE. If you are on a tight budget and just can’t afford to purchase the new version, you can still have access to this high-quality, lovely book!
I’ll feature another popular “modern” reproduction of an English text in a future post and share the links for the FREE version. Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive, especially in the early grades. There are a lot of things you can find with a search engine.