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.

Guest Hollow Language Arts is ready for purchase!

Homeschool language arts

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

An illustration I recently finished…(and other news!)

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!

Grammar Sneak Peek!

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!

Handwriting Fonts

Handwriting fonts
Handwriting font

Handwriting without Tears font
No matter which handwriting style you’ve chosen, if you want to make your own penmanship worksheets, you are going to need the correct font. Here are some places you can go to online to get a variety of fonts for your homeschool:

  • Startwrite
    I used to use Startwrite when I first started creating handwriting worksheets. It features fonts similar to all the major handwriting fonts (D’Nealian, Handwriting without Tears, Zaner-Bloser, etc.) plus additional features like clipart, colored ruled lines, letters that show arrows, dots, guides and more. I stopped using Startwrite because I like to work in other programs like Microsoft Word and Photoshop. Startwrite fonts can only be used within the Startwrite program. I also thought their Handwriting without Tears font was a teeny bit “off”, but that is only my own personal opinion and not a scientific observation!
  • Educational Fontware
    I currently use EF for all of my handwriting font needs. These are fonts that get installed on your computer as any other normal type of font. The CD of fonts also has small programs that get installed to link and unlink cursive letters. I like EF’s fonts because they are the MOST like the actual fonts used in handwriting workbooks. EF actually worked with Ms. Dubay to develop their version of the Getty-Dubay Italic. Although it’s a little more expensive than Startwrite, it’s more useful to someone who wants to use handwriting fonts across multiple computer programs.
  • ZB FontsOnline Plus
    You can create worksheets online in both cursive and manuscript Zaner-Bloser font. The limited free version allows you to print your worksheets, but not save them. The paid version with more features, is 29.99 for a one year access. The online program adjusts the font size and ruled lines depending on which grade you choose in the options.
  • Fonts for Teachers
    You can order a CD that has 31 fonts that are D’Nealian style plus some extras.
  • Free Handwriting Fonts for Teachers
    This About.com page features a variety of fonts, including some based on dots for early letter tracing. You won’t see anything like D’Nealian, HWOT or Zaner-Bloser here, but what you do find might do in a pinch if you want a manuscript style font and don’t care much about the exact style.

Having the appropriate font on hand really opens up options for making your own worksheets and can save money over time, especially if you have several children. Another great benefit of having a handwriting font on hand is that you can customize your children’s penmanship work. You can have them copy all kinds of sentences that have to do with their other studies like history, Bible memorization, sentences about character, science and even Latin!

Grammar Help Sheet

Grammar help sheet

We are currently using MCT (Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts Curriculum) for grammar. Otter LOVES it. He loves the characters and the creative approach to what can sometimes be a boring subject. He liked the book Paragraph Town so much, he said he’d like to use it in his free time! We hit a snag though when we started working out of the Practice Town book. In that workbook, you are supposed to analyze a sentence and practice the concepts learned in Grammar Town. You mark the parts of speech for each word, parts of a sentence (subject, action verb, etc.), phrases and then clauses on four separate lines. Otter was having a hard time remembering everything he was supposed to write down. To help him remember all of the things we’ve been learning, I made him this grammar help sheet.

If you are a fellow MCT user, I hope you might be able to get some use out of it too!


Otter recently finished his First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 4 workbook and…they don’t make any more levels for it yet. GASP. That means I had to find something else to use. I thought I was going to use Shurley English, as we’ve done in the past. But, ugh…we’re both tired of Shurley English. It works great, but I think we both want something a bit different. I finally made my choices. We are now using:

  • KISS Grammar – I love KISS Grammar. You learn to analyze sentences using classic literature. Here’s a great review that goes over the basics. Otter likes it too (we’re working through the 1st workbook). The lessons are short, enjoyable and FREE. Don’t be scared off by the website. There is a LOT of info there, but you can pretty much pick up and go if you download one of the workbooks.
  • Intermediate Language Lessons – This book was published in 1914 and was designed for 4th through 6th graders. I downloaded a free PDF from Google and am printing off the lessons as we go through them. It has picture studies, narration, poetry, dictation, outlining, composition, memorization, grammar and more presented in a gentle, engaging format. I am VERY pleased with it.

I feels great to find things that work for us that don’t cost anything! Oh! Oh! I also found this today (for FREEEEEE):

A Child’s History of Art by V.M. Hillyer

I’m looking forward to doing some art studies using it. Happy downloading!

Cinquain Poetry

Recently Otter did a project in History Pockets where he learned about how the Egyptians worshipped cats. He made a cat booklet and wrote some poetry inside after learning about several different styles. I like combining different subjects when he learns about things. This was, of course, a combo of language arts and history.

His attempt at a couplet:

Oh cats, they’re so lovely
when they cuddle up on your chair

And then they merrily walk around
and you don’t hear a sound.


His cinquain:

Soft, happy
Jump, crouch, purr
They snarl at dogs.

Here’s the site we referenced to write the cinquain: Cinquain Poetry.


Online Activities for Reluctant Writers

Otter doesn’t like to write. It’s a challenge for me to find writing assignments that will actually engage him! Recently he’s been really interested in comics, especially Garfield (which totally takes me back to 6th grade!). So… one of the recent things I’ve come up with to get him writing is creating comics! He thinks it’s just a lot of fun. I know he’s practicing important skills. wink

Here are a couple online activities I found to help his comic writing process along and add a bit of interactive pizzazz!

Make Your Own Captain Underpant’s Comic
If you don’t mind the potty humor, your boys will probably especially love this one. Your budding comic writer is provided with sayings to choose from as well as a variety of characters to populate the pages. After making a couple of comics online, maybe your kiddo will be inspired to draw out some of his/her own. You can only view your comic online.

This is a terrific site where you can create custom comics panels with a variety of character choices, thought and talk bubbles, colors and the ability to write your own text! There is also a page of some great printables that are sure to help spark some creativity. You can email or print out your creations.

Read, Write Think Comic Creator
You can choose your background, props and different characters. After you finish your masterpiece you can print it out to share!

Garfield’s Comic Creator
Build your own Garfield comic strip with characters, props, background and typeable text. You can view your comic online or print it out. You can imagine how THRILLED Otter was when I showed him this one.

Professor Garfield Comic Lab
Not only is there a comic creator with lots of Garfield goodies, there are also some how-to videos and some lesson pdf’s to give you writing ideas.

Charlotte’s Web Comic
You decide what happens to Wilbur and his friends with customizable panels, objects, talk bubbles and settings. The comic creator uses real photos for a nice looking comic. You can print out your comic when you’re done.

There are also some sites online that have more professional layout tools, but they require registration and feature user created comics which could contain adult content. If you think one of those sites may be appropriate, you can check out sites like Pixton and Comiqs.