Writer’s Toolbox Giveaway!

Writer's Toolbox book

Writer’s Toolbox is a great resource for budding writers. It contains 6 separate books in one and helps teach students how to write letters, fairy tales, poems, reports, and more!

A customer recently posted asking if Writer’s Toolbox was scheduled in the Guest Hollow Language Arts Curriculum. It wasn’t (the individual book titles were), but it is now, and for those of you who choose that option (instead of buying the individual titles it contains) should save some $$! As an added bonus, there are two more stories in the Writer’s Toolbox in addition to the ones I scheduled in – one about journals and the other about writing scary stories. Writer’s Toolbox is a nice resource and a bit easier to handle than trying to get all the individual book titles. Now you have BOTH options! 

Even for those of you who aren’t using Guest Hollow Language Arts, Writer’s Toolbox is a great resource to have on your homeschool shelf.

Now that I’m done using a copy to schedule in pages, we are offering this NEARLY brand-new copy of The Writer’s Toolbox in a giveaway! Just post in the comments to be entered. We are also hosting the same giveaway via the Guest Hollow Facebook page. You can post and share there instead of here if you wish! A winner will be announced on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Drops Language Learning App Giveaway!

Drops language app

I’ve been really busy working on creating a high school geography and cultures curriculum. One of the things I recommend when learning geography is to learn a foreign language. Today I’m hosting a giveaway in honor of the up-coming geography program and the goal of learning about other cultures and languages: Drops!

Drops is an addictive, colorful app that teaches you individual words. It’s not a full-fledged language program that deals with grammar and conversation, but that’s part of its charm and ease of use. With Drops you learn vocabulary (along with some travel phrases and scripts for languages like Japanese) in a way that’s simple, easy, and fun.

There is something about it that just makes you want to sit for a while and tap/swipe/learn. Drops is the perfect app for when your brain is too tired for a more rigorous language learning effort, when you only have a few minutes, or to introduce a new language learner to something that isn’t intimidating and difficult. It’s also great for learning a LOT of words.

I made a quick video to show the different word categories and how the app works:

There are 35 languages available:

Drops has quite a few categories of words you can practice – from the very basic (food, colors, weather, etc.) to more advanced vocabulary that has to do with things like biology, computers, geography, politics, and much more:

Drops app review

You can choose your level to get access to more difficult words as you progress. Drops also allows you to practice scripts where you can trace with your finger or stylus to make the characters you are learning:

Learning hiragana with the Drops app

The free version of Drops gives you access to most features with a 5-minute time limit. Purchase a premium subscription and you get additional benefits like access to the word dojo (that helps you practice/retain the words you’ve already learned with a special algorithm), offline learning, no ads, no time limit, a word collection (where you can see all of the words you’ve practiced with instant pronunciation, etc.), all topics are unlocked, and you can restart a topic. One lucky winner of our giveaway will get a one YEAR premium subscription!

drops language app review
I can look at all the words I’ve been learning and practicing from the collections screen.

Enter our giveaway for a free subscription to Drops. You can also download the app and give it a try. Everyone can play for free!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you’d like more language learning suggestions and ideas, click here to read a previous article I wrote.
Homeschooling with Guest Hollow

LingoDeer Giveaway! One of the best apps for learning a language!

Lingo DeerI mentioned how I’m learning Japanese in a previous post about learning languages. I have tried just about every app in existence to see which one works best and have finally found one I absolutely LOVE based on a recommendation from one of my customers: LingoDeer!  To celebrate this terrific find and thanks to LingoDeer’s generosity, I’m hosting a giveaway where 3 lucky winners will get a lifetime subscription to LingoDeer. Before I get to the giveaway details, I want to share the details of this terrific language-learning app!

LingoDeer currently features 9 different languages: Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and Russian. I was told that they are also going to add Italian this year and are open to adding other languages in the future when the right talent joins the team. LingoDeer is also committed to expanding and improving the languages they currently feature especially the Asian language courses.

The app was originally designed for Asian languages (and that continues to be the main focus), but when I use it to brush up on my German, it shines just as much as it does for Japanese!

Lingo Deer currently features 9 different languages.

Japanese hiragana

Learning any language can be difficult, but learning an Asian language (for an English speaker) is a bit more of a challenge (at least for me, lol). First, you have to learn an entirely new “alphabet.” In Japanese, this means you have to learn hiragana, katakana, and finally kanji.

Lingo Deer starts you out learning the basic alphabet with the proper stroke order for some of the languages like Japanese and Korean. With Japanese, LingoDeer teaches you the basic hiragana and katakana. Kanji are introduced as sight reading. but you can always have the option to see the phonetic hiragana (or the English letter based romaji) above the kanji to help you read.

Other languages in LingoDeer also start out with the alphabet, so you can learn any special characters or pronunciation. The Chinese lessons teach pinyin and a set of “survival” characters. I think LingoDeer alphabet lessons are the best for Korean and Japanese, but they are always working on making their app better and adding more features, so it’s possible the other languages will get the same level of introductory “alphabet” lessons.

After the optional alphabet section, you start the lessons. After trying a boat load of other apps, Lingo Deer turned out to be one of the BEST with just the right amount of difficulty, perfect lesson lengths that aren’t overwhelming, and grammar explanations to help further your understanding.

Lessons start out with optional learning tips. After you’ve completed a lesson, you can click on the stopwatch icon for a quick pop quiz to practice vocabulary and other concepts.

The exercises are varied to keep interest high and to help build retention and understanding. Some of the exercises are:

  • Match a picture to a spoken word
  • Match English to Japanese
  • Choose the correct translation
  • Fill in the blank
  • Drag and drop to spell words and create sentences
  • Multiple choice
  • Drag a phrase into the correct position in a sentence
  • Listen and choose the correct word
  • Speak and compare your pronunciation to a native speaker

In the screenshot below, you can’t just guess to get a correct answer! You have to build the sentence by dragging and dropping the correct hiragana and spell out every word.

I found this to be challenging at first, because with other programs I could just “guess” the correct answer by reading one or two words in a sentence. Having to spell out every word in an exercise like this really reinforces the material in a way that discourages cheating. 😉

When I was using other Japanese programs, I had a hard time differentiating between some of the basic grammar concepts. Lingo Deer has you learning things in context AND provides additional explanation, so you aren’t left guessing.

In the above screenshot, I can touch each word to see a detailed explanation. I can also press the microphone icon to record myself saying the sentence and then compare it to a native speaker. Unlike some apps, speaking is optional, so if you are in a quiet environment, you can still progress through the lessons without having to make a peep.

There is a review for each lesson so that you never forget what you’re learning. You can review grammar, vocabulary, or both at the same time. Review is also built into the lessons so that grammar and other things you learned from previous lessons are reinforced gently.

There is plenty of review. You can practice vocabulary and grammar individually via different modes.

Knowledge cards in the review section give you more info about grammar and structure:

Knowledge cards help you understand grammar and structure.

You can also download your lessons to work offline!

LingoDeer also features a progress chart, badges, awards, and a ranking system to stay motivated and to track your learning.

With other apps I sometimes felt frustrated during my language lessons, but LingoDeer leaves me feeling encouraged and happy with my progress. I also find myself retaining the lessons better than most other apps due to the lesson structure.

LingoDeer is available via Android or the Apple app store:


…And now I’d like to share LingoDeer with three of my readers via a giveaway:

THREE winners will get a LIFETIME subscription to LingoDeer!

Take a look at the gallery for more LingoDeer screenshots: