Tuesday, October 27, 2015

IEW’s Resources Are Fantastic!–A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review!

IEW Phonetic Zoo

We have been blessed with being able to review writing curriculum and spelling curriculum from the Institute in Excellence in Writing (IEW) before and we have loved everything that we have reviewed. However, we have never reviewed any of their resource items. In fact, I never knew that IEW had any resource items until we had a chance to be chosen to review a resource pack of three individual items from this great company. Let me tell you right up front that we were totally blessed. The three items that we were able to use and review were Timeline of Classics, Teaching With Games Set, and A Word Right Now. I would buy any of these items without hesitation – they are that good! Let me talk a little bit about each one and how we have used them.

 IEW Phonetic Zoo
A Timeline of Classics – We are big history buffs around here. I attribute my love of history to my dad who loved taking us to historic places. More than once we enjoyed traveling to Gettysburg, and, when I was younger, we also went to Boston, Plymouth, Jamestown, Williamsburg, Mackinac Island and many other historic places. I, in turn, have tried to take my kids to historic places, and studying history has become a favorite of ours as well. One of the reasons we love it so much is because we have always used a literature approach to our history study. There have been years where I have bought a curriculum from one of the great historical literature based homeschool companies but they are often expensive to buy. I would always order the basic teacher manual and then search used book stores and libraries for the exact books that they require us to read. This year I decided to make my own curriculum using a lot of books that I have found over the years. Up until a few weeks ago I was using books and autobiographies that I had already bought and charting them on my computer. It has really been a hit and miss approach. Little did I know that I would be getting the recourse of all recourses to use now and in the future!
A Timeline of Classics is fantastic! It has good, family friendly books, films, recordings, biographies and more all in chronological form so that you can peruse what to use during any time period of world history that you might be studying. It’s all done in a spreadsheet form that includes the Description or Time Period, Title, Author and Level (Elementary, Middle School, High School). So far it lists almost 1400 titles in one huge 87 page spiral  bound volume divided into four sections – Ancients. The Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and The Modern World. Although it can’t include absolutely everything written about these major time periods (that would take at least 87 volumes let alone 87 pages) it does list the best of the best. I could peruse this book for hours if I had the time. Already I have researched books for our present year of study (American History being jointly studied by my two youngest), but I have begun to research what to do next year when we will be studying World History. I have also snuck a peak to see if the books that I presently am using are on the list. Many of them aren’t, but that’s okay. This book doesn’t claim that it is the complete list, but you could use just the resources found in this book to form your own history curriculum and your transcript would be one for others to envy!
 IEW Phonetic Zoo
Teaching With Games - I know I have mentioned the autism diagnosis of my two youngest sons a lot, but it really does create a challenge when it comes to teaching them. They are both very unique learners and everyday curriculum doesn’t always work with them. I have to constantly find creative ways to teach them and to help them retain what they have learned. Teaching With Games has been a gold mine of great ideas in that area.
We were blessed to receive the two DVD/ one CD set of a seminar given by the author, Lori Verstegen. The two DVDs have over two hours of information and ideas on creating your own games to be used to teach or review any subject you can think of. Each category of games – “No-Prep” Games. Matching Card Games, Question Games, Math Facts Games, and “Make As You Teach” Games - have at least three games listed that can be adapted to make dozens of different games that you can play at home with your children, in a co-op group, in a Sunday School or Bible Club, or in a regular classroom setting. I love the way the presenter involves all of the participants of the recorded seminar. As she explains all of the games she also has the attendees playing them.
The CD has all of the handouts from the seminar that includes instructions, rules and samples for all of the games talked about and demonstrated on the DVDs but we were blessed to be given the 117 page spiral bound book (that can be purchased separately) instead of having to print out all of the pages from the CD. While watching the above described videos I would sit with my book and follow along. The book has the same handouts and descriptions as the book the participants are using on the DVD’s so it was easy to keep up and learn.
We have loved trying out the games. Just yesterday we were playing one of the “No-Prep” Games and they begged to play it again. I can’t wait to play the Geography Game with Joshua since he loves Geography. Games are perfect for my two youngest because of their different ways of learning. Games are really perfect for any child, though, because as Ms. Verstegen says on the CD’s, studies show that students retain 90% of what they immediately use and apply. Playing games requires students to use and apply information that they have just learned. We are loving this resource.
IEW Phonetic Zoo
A Word Write Now - My two oldest love to write. Presently they are both writing books and, if I must say so myself, I think the books are very good and creative! When I first say A Word Write Now I knew that they would be able to use this resource. I know that they often have a hard time creatively describing something (just like I often do when I write) and this is going to really help them. It is wonderful. It’s a little bit thesaurus, a little bit dictionary . . . really it’s a little bit of a lot of things! Let me describe each of the four sections just a little bit for you.

Section A – Character Traits contains 23 traits that cover everything from Anger, to Curiosity, to Gossip, to Wisdom. For each trait there is a definition, a thought on that trait, excerpts from Classical Literature and words for that character trait that are Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Verbs, and even what the author calls “Nouns Characters”. For example, a noun character for Cheerfulness might be a buddy, a nurse, or Pollyanna among many others. I really like how this section is set up and know it is going to be a valuable tool for everyone in our family, including me!

Section B – Description Words cover words that describe appearance, color, size, time, temperature, texture and shape. I love this section. Since each description word is different, there is no set way that this section is set up. For example, on the Words to Describe Size pages it lists adjectives for Large Amounts, Small or No Amounts, Large Sizes, Medium Sizes, Small Sizes, Open Spaces, Tight Spaces, and Length and Width, Height and Depth words. However, in the Words to Describe Color section it lists adjectives for all of the major colors and then lists adjectives for Attributes of Color such as Dull, Neutral and Strong, then lists nouns for Values of Color and Words for Light. I have never thought of some of these things. I know this will make a big difference in my writing let alone my children’s writing.

Section C – Words for Movement and the Senses has words for Feet, Hands, Hearing, Seeing, Smelling, Speaking and Thinking. Again, different things in this section require the pages to be set up differently. For example in the Words for Feet section there are Nouns Related to Feet. You can find Things to Put on Feet, Words for Human Feet, Words for Animal Feet. Places for Feet to Move, and How Feet Might Move. Then it contains Verbs for Moving Feet such as Faster Movements, Graceful Movements, Slower Movements, Awkward Movements and Other Foot Actions.

The Senses sections have a plethora of words as well. Words for Hearing has words for Animal Sounds, Object Sounds, Human Sounds, Loud Sounds, Quiet Sounds, Things that make Sounds, and even has words for Listening and Verb Phrases that deal with sound. This section truly has everything you can think of!

Section D – Appendix is not a section to be skimmed over and not looked at. It has some great information that will help you write well including Playing with Words, Transitions, Prepositions, Literary Genres and Definitions and Examples of Literary Devices.

As you can probably tell from my totally inadequate descriptions above, these three resources are keepers for us that we will use and turn to over and over again in our homeschooling and beyond. You can find out more about these products by clicking on the highlighted links above. IEW is a wonderful company and many other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed other items than what I did. You can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!


IEW Review
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