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:

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

I just finished an illustration for (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!

A giveaway!!

giveaway2It’s that time of year again, when everyone is planning for the new school year next fall (for those of you who don’t school year round, lol). This is the first year that I’m not participating in that process myself, but in honor of all those hours I spent pouring over curricula and thinking of our homeschool budget, here’s a giveaway to help make things a little easier on someone’s pocketbook!

I’ve always loved Compass Classroom’s products. I started using their Visual Latin program way back when they were just a new, baby company (lol), and have watched them grow over the years with lots of high quality offerings. I love that you can stream a lot of their products, and you can also purchase a monthly subscription that allows you to stream a multitude of homeschool curricula without committing to a huge upfront purchase price.  You can try a curriculum out and cancel if it’s not a fit for your family, or just pay for it a month at a time!

In this giveaway, you have your choice of any one of the streaming versions of the following:

All I ask for each entry is that you spread the word about Guest Hollow! Pin one of our graphics, post about us on your blog, share the news or like us on Facebook, tell someone in your homeschool playgroup, etc. Just spread the Guest Hollow love. 🙂 Now that I’m no longer homeschooling, I need my little Guest Hollow home business to pick up, or it will have to be a hobby instead of a business. Please help our site thrive by spreading the word, so I can do this full-time and bring you LOTS of new curricula and printables!  I have tons of new ideas that are just waiting to be created!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

English from the Roots Up

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


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:

english from the roots up page example


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. wink 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!

Cyncesplace has several terrific printables:

Notebooking Pages
Flashcards and Games

Here are some other freebies & printables to use with the program from other sources:

Greek root word study notebook page
Latin root word study notebook page

Printable flashcards (just features the root word – you still have to fill them out)

Quizlet flashcards

Happy Homeschooling!

Review of Marie’s Words – Vocabulary Flash Cards

Marie's Words Vocabulary Cards

I’ve been homeschooling for 17 years now and have seen (and probably used, lol) just about everything you can think of for vocabulary studies. One of our favorites over the years is the book Vocabulary Cartoons for the way it connects pictures to a word’s meaning. The negative about Vocabulary Cartoons is that it’s in a book format. It’s kind of hard to practice definitions when you can see everything (like the definition/answers) all together on the page.

Marie’s Words Vocabulary Flash Cards solves this! Fun illustrations are on the front of each card (about the size of an index card). Flip it over and you get the definition(s), pronunciation help, synonyms and antonyms. There is a total of 550 cards with words targeted for the SAT.

Marie's Words Vocabulary Flashcards

Look at all these cards! There are 550 to be exact.

The front of each card features the word you are learning along with an illustration to help you remember the meaning of the word. For example: the word viscous is drawn with a jar of honey being poured over the top of the letters V I S C O U S. You can see that the honey is clinging to the top of the letters and dripping down. It’s an immediate visual cue that really helps you remember that a viscous substance (like honey) has a thick, sticky consistency between a solid and liquid.

On the “hamper” card below you can see both meanings for hamper: something to hold dirty laundry and also the fact that the vehicle is being hampered from driving any further.

Marie's Vocabulary Words

The back of each card has several helps beyond just a definition (or several definitions if a word has more than one meaning).


First, there is a number on the upper left corner. This is helpful if you want to alphabetize your cards. Ours are hopelessly out of order from using them so much, but if we ever wanted to put them back in order, these numbers would help tremendously.

Next, there is the word you are defining featured prominently at the top (which is nice if you are helping a child practice – you don’t have to look at the front of the card to see what you are doing) as well as a pronunciation help underneath. The pronunciation help is a great feature, especially for some of the harder and more unfamiliar words. For example: On the card for the word putrid the pronunciation help shows: pyoo-trid with the pyoo part in bold so you know to emphasize that syllable.

Underneath the word and it’s pronunciation help is the definition itself. Sometimes there is more than one definition if a word has more than one meaning. There is also a sentence for each definition so you can see the word in context. I find this really helps my son better retain the meaning. The sentence for the first definition (and most commonly used meaning) is related to the drawing on the front of the card to make it stick even more.

The last thing on each card are two boxes at the bottom. One contains synonyms and the other antonyms. These boxes do double duty. Not only do they expose you to even more vocabulary, they also help clarify the meaning of the word. Let’s say my son is learning the 2nd definition for the word “hamper” and he doesn’t know what impede or restrict means. He can look at the antonym box and see that the opposite meaning is to allow or permit. This not only helps make the definition more clear, it also connects it to other words and meanings. When he looks at the synonym box he can see the synonyms block and stymie. These words will either help him better define the word or will introduce him to additional vocabulary words he may not be totally familiar with. I find the synonym box to also be a huge plus in that it can allow a student to define the word using just one other word instead of a longer definition. Sometimes that just works better (and is quicker)!

I know these cards are being marketed for SAT study, but I think they are just as useful as a vocabulary program for almost any age (though some words and their definitions might be too difficult for some early elementary students). I’ve found that they are a fun break from using a workbook or something similar. They are easy to use, quick and memorable (and portable!).

Another thing I want to comment on is that I work with a child who has (high functioning) autism (Aspergers). This child sometimes has difficulty learning things out of context. Having Marie’s Words on hand instantly ties each word to something visual and more easy to connect to than just a word itself.

A student can easily use the cards on his own, but I find it’s more fun to use them together. We like to flip through them and quiz each other. Even I learned some words *blush*…

The only negative thought I have about Marie’s Words is the name. It’s not sticky. I think the cards should be called something like Visual Vocabulary or something similar. Ah well. That’s a very minor complaint and has nothing to do with the actual use of the cards themselves. Also, sometimes the definition is kind of difficult, but all you have to do is look at the synonyms to “dumb it down”.

I’ve had great success using Marie’s Words in my homeschool and highly recommend them if you are looking for something different to help you teach vocabulary. The illustrations really help the word meanings stick and turn learning vocabulary into something visual, quick, easy and even fun!

Click here to visit the official Marie’s Words website. You can also purchase them from Amazon and Timberdoodle. If you visit the official site, there is also an app available for the iPhone, iPad and Android!

Fun Fall Vocabulary Activity

I got this fun fall vocabulary activity idea from the Words on the Vine Vocabulary workbook. We were studying words that have the Latin root foli (which means leaf). The page said to cut out the little pictures of leaves directly from the workbook, but they were tiny and wouldn’t have looked very nice with text from the next workbook page printed on the other side.

Instead, I printed out some free leaf templates from Enchanted Learning onto some thick, smooth paper and pulled out our box of crayons. Otter and I got to work (gotta love having an excuse to color). Coloring on that slick paper was a joy. The crayons went on in a heavy, buttery layer. Even my 21 year old daughter came over and helped color the leaves. It was like having a little homeschool flashback to when we’d all sit around the table working on a project (way back when I was teaching 3 instead of one!). Of course I had to tease her though! She looks pretty when she blushes. Wink

After coloring and cutting the leaves out, Otter wrote his vocabulary words and definitions on the blank side of each leaf:

Then he punched holes on the stem side and strung the leaves up on some yarn. We hung the vocabulary leaves on our fireplace as a fall decoration.

I can’t believe we’re already seeing signs of fall! The leaves on our front yard tree are steadily falling and we saw our first V’s of migrating birds numbering in the hundreds just the other day.

If you’d like to do this activity, you can use your own vocabulary words or you can use words with the root foli in them.

I love doing activities like this. They help break you out of the regular routine a little and make schoolwork a bit more fun (and they give you a good reason to break out those crayons, even if your youngest is a teen). Wink

Now every time Otter looks at our fireplace he can be reminded of the words he studied and we have a nice decoration to celebrate the first signs of fall.