BJU focus on Five review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

If you are looking for a Christian Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum, I suggest checking out BJU Press Focus on Fives kit from BJU Press Homeschool. We had the opportunity to try out the BJU Press Focus on Fives and here is our review.

What is BJU Press Focus on Fives

BJU Press Focus on Five is a full Kindergarten curriculum for your five-year-old. It covers Reading, Science, Bible, and writing/composition. When I say full curriculum I do mean FULL. It includes everything you need for your kindergartner. The program includes 180 lessons. There are several teachers manuals. Several workbooks. Several flashcard sets. Several visual aids. Several Series of reading books.

BJU Press Focus on Five workbooks

The two-color workbooks in the picture above are used during the lesson. The black and white workbook is for extra practice.  The worksheets in the workbooks can be torn out or kept in the workbook.

The kit includes Alphabet cards to put on the wall, Phonics review flashcards and cards with High-frequency words.  I really like the visual flip chart in the picture below.  It has a spiral metal binding and a hard cardboard back.  It can stand up on its own. It would have been nice if they had the phonics review cards also included in the flip chart instead of separate cards but that’s just my opinion.

The BJU Press Focus on Five also includes little paper reading books for the lessons.  The books include the sight word being learned in the lesson and other words they are learning.  One of the workbooks also has little paper books the student makes to go along with the lessons.

There are six detailed teacher manuals that include all the lesson plans. The teacher manuals are very sturdy hardback spiral-bound books. The lesson plans in the teacher manuals are laid out in a lot of detail. There is a list of all the visuals and materials needed.  The lesson plans also have all the instructions needed for the lesson.  I would recommend reading over the lesson plan before the lesson so you have an overall idea of what is covered in the lesson.

I was impressed by how advanced reading concepts are taught in this Kindergarten curriculum.  When I was in Kindergarten we only started to read basic books at the very end.

Here is a broad outline of the reading lessons being taught throughout the curriculum.

  • Lessons 1 – 80: Letter sounds and simple short vowel words
  • Lesson 81: Constant blends are introduced.
  • Lesson 111: Long vowels like silent e
  • Lesson 121: Vowels working together
  • Lesson 136: Bossy r words are introduced

There are many practice worksheets to go with each phonics lessons.

While there are 180 lessons the last 20 lessons are actually for special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. These are in the 6th teacher manual so it might not be apparent that these lessons are available.

What did we think of it

I initially thought my son who is almost 5 would try the curriculum since he is always wanting to do school. While most of the activities were his level, he is not very good at holding a pencil. Since there are a lot of worksheets it is difficult for him to do the writing activities.  So I had my next older son try the curriculum.

My next son liked the program but the beginning lessons were too easy for him which makes it hard to jump in someplace in the middle.  I really liked the phonics lessons and how they were laid out.  He did not know some of the High-frequency words in the reading books since he did not start at the beginning.  I really liked the extra activities and crafts at the end of each lesson.  I also liked all the visuals and using the characters Mr and Mrs short and Uncle short and Miss Long to help with the phonics concepts.  Some of the activities I didn’t really think were necessary for homeschoolers like the classroom routine and the reading centers since I do not have a classroom full of kids.

Overall the curriculum is very comprehensive and detailed.  For people who are by the book and like things to be very structured it will work well but maybe not so much or people who are laid back in their approach to homeschooling.  I think the online version of the curriculum would work better for our family since we tend to be more laid back.  You can see more about the online video version here.  I think the BJU Press Focus on Five program would work well for someone starting out who wants everything laid out for them in detail.

Other families used BJU Press Focus on Five too so be sure to check out their reviews by clicking on the banner below.

BJU Press Focus on Fives {BJU Press Homeschool Reviews}

Reading Unlocked Reading Program review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

My son is loving the online reading program Reading Unlocked.  The lessons are short and provide many different ways to practice reading.  The lessons are only 10 minutes a day and he has no complaints when we work on reading with Reading Unlocked.  Since I have lots of boys, I am always looking for good phonics-based reading programs.  I feel like my son is actually learning better with the Reading Unlocked program than other programs we have used.  I was especially excited Reading Unlocked works on an iPad. Keep reading to see how our review went.

What is Reading Unlocked

Reading Unlocked is an online subscription program for teaching reading. The Reading Unlocked program works on a computer or an iPad using an internet web browser.  Reading Unlocked only takes 10 minutes a day.  To get started you choose the reading level your child is ready for based on three different lines of text shown in the picture below.  The first level is for beginning readers.  The second level is for readers who know almost all the letter sounds and three-letter words along with some blends.  The last level is the highest level and introduces more complex blends and long vowel sounding words.

The Reading Unlocked program should only take about 10 minutes a day.  There are several different exercises you do with your child.  To start a new sound or blend is introduced.  There are status dots at the top to show you how much is left for the lesson.

Several words are introduced with the lesson sound or blend.  Each letter sound (or blend) is sounded out individually and then the sounds are sounded out together in the whole word.  This is especially helpful for my son who has auditory issues.

Many different exercises are used to practice the lesson sounds.  The picture below shows the exercise where the student changes the word by switching out one of the sounds.  For example below you are supposed to turn nest into chest by moving the ch blend over the n.

The picture below shows where the student chooses the picture that matches the word.

All the exercises were at the level that my son would not get discouraged.  The picture below shows another exercise with the words learned.  Each line as a few additional words plus the other words which reinforces what they just learned.

The last exercise has a poem to read and the student reads the highlighted words.  I initially didn’t really like this but my son really seemed to like it. After the lesson is complete you can see the words learned and the days you have completed a lesson.

How we used reading unlocked

Because Reading Unlocked works on the iPad, I found it easy to help my son who is learning to read before bed in his room.  With the iPad and Reading Unlocked you can work on learning to read anywhere.  The only issue with using it before bed is then its hard to write out some of the words he is learning as the program says.  I wish there was a worksheet or a list of words that I could download and help him practice writing the words he is learning.  You are supposed to write the words on a separate sheet of paper during the lesson, but if you don’t have writing materials handy you may not remember what words your child is supposed to practice writing.  I usually try and take a screenshot of the words he is supposed to write out, and then I make a worksheet for him to practice later.  

Since my son has been reading simple words for awhile I started him off on the second level.  My son did pretty fine until some of the lessons used blends like ch and sh which he hasn’t learned yet.  Even though he had not learned those blends he did ok after I explained how the blend sounded.  Later I realized that those blends were introduced in the last several lessons for the first level.  In the settings you can change what level and what lesson to work on.  I tried several lessons until I found the ones where the blends started.  I had him work on those earlier lessons so I could make sure he understood those blends.

I only used the program with one of my children.  While I did not see a way to add individual students, you can use it with multiple children by changing the level and the lesson in the settings.  It would be nice if you could add another child, but it’s not that big of an issue.  Once you start using the program you get a feel for where your child should be at. Overall the Reading Unlocked program is very effective for teaching reading.  When I asked my son what he liked about Reading Unlocked he said, “I am learning more.”  I was surprised he said that, but I really feel like he is learning more.  The program is just enough for him to learn without being overwhelmed.  

Is it right for your child?

If your child struggles with your current reading program or complains about learning to read then I would recommend you give Reading Unlocked a try.  Reading Unlocked is especially good for homeschool parents who have limited time to help their child learn to read. Reading Unlocked is especially good if your child struggles with reading.  As a homeschool dad with lots of boys I recommend Reading Unlocked to teach your child to read.  I especially love that Reading Unlocked works on the iPad so we can work on it anywhere in the house.

My son really thinks Reading Unlocked is helping him learn to read better. Other families used this product too so be sure to check out their reviews by clicking on the banner below.

Reading Unlocked {Reading Unlocked Reviews}

YWAM Heroes of History book review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

YWAM Publishing offered us several choices from their Heroes of History series of books and we chose to review the George Washington book. We chose to review the George Washington book since we are currently studying American history.  As a homeschool family for many years, we have always enjoyed the “Heroes of History” books from YWAM Publishing.  There are 26 titles offered in the Heroes of History book series to choose from.

My daughter likes the Heroes of History books because:

  • They are easy to read
  • They cover the whole  life of the hero
  • They provide good lessons from their lives

One of those lessons that hit me was the following quote from George Washington:

“The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.” – George Washington

In our current society we seem to have lost this.  It is amazing how important George Washington was in the founding of our country.  He was truly a great leader.

Study guide:

As part of the review I also received the study guide.  The Study guide is a PDF that I downloaded.

 

The study guide has two parts.  The first part has quotes, display corner ideas, questions for each chapter, Social Studies, Related themes to explore and Culminating Events.  The section on a display corner gives suggestions on how you can set up a display corner of objects related to the life and times of George Washington.  Part 2 of the study guide has a fact sheet and some maps.

I really liked reading the YWAM Publishing book on George Washington.  I am looking forward to sharing some of the interesting facts about George Washington and lessons that I learned reading the book.  I am looking forward to reading more books in the YWAM Publishing Heroes of History series.

We reviewed just one book from the Heroes of History series, but you can see reviews from other books reviewed by Homeschool Review Crew members by clicking the link below.

32 Heroes of History {YWAM Publishing Reviews}

Book review – If You Were Me and Lived in…

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Children’s books like those written by Carole P. Roman can be such a fun way to explore history, or culture or even practice reading.  We received four books from Carole P. Roman’s assorted series to add to our home library.  For this review I was able to choose four of Carole P. Roman’s Children’s books.  The four books I reviewed were: If you were me and lived in… Colonial America, if you were me and lived in… Renaissance Italy, if you were me and lived in…the Mayan Empire, and if you were me and lived in… the Middle Ages.  I chose the above books to help in our current history studies and some time periods we will be studying next.

Currently we are studying early American history so the If you were me and lived in… Colonial America  book is perfect supplement our studies.  The book is mostly focused on the pilgrims and there experience coming to America to have freedom of worship.  The book covers all the aspects of life that children would have experienced in the new colony.  In the back of the book there are several imporatant figures from that time period.

The next book I chose was if you were me and lived in…the Mayan Empire.  I was interested in the Mayan book since I have visited the Yucatan peninsula.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to share with my kids some of what I saw first hand at the Mayan ruins.  It was neat to read about some of the places I visited with my children.  The book covers all aspects of what it would be like if my children lived in the Mayan culture.

The if you were me and lived in…Middle Ages book is probably the longest book in the set of the four books I reviewed.  It is 79 pages full of information.  I didn’t particularly like the pictures in this book but that’s my personal preference.  The book was a wealth of information about the middle ages though.

These books are a good reference books for your homeschool history classes.  All the books listed in this review have important information in the back of the book.  I especially liked the famous artist Bio from if you were me and lived in… Renaissance Italy along with a nice glossary in the back of the book so you can quickly look up some quick facts.

I would highly recomend any of the Carole P. Roman Children’s books for your homeschool. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog by clicking the picture below to read more reviews of other books from Carole P. Roman’s assorted series.

Carole P. Roman's Histroy, Geography, Bedtime & Captain No Beard series {Carole P. Roman Reviews}
 

The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We are enjoying The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set based on the books by Gertrude Chandler Warner and published by Albert Whitman & company. We have loved the boxcar classics now we also love The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set. While my older kids have read the original books my younger children are not as familiar with the Boxcar children stories.

As part of the review I recieved four hardback The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set books.  All the books are based on the original books.  The very first book introduces you to the Boxcar children and you learn why they are called the Boxcar children. The Surprise Island book also has a movie you can watch and of course there is a mystery.

The books are nicely illustrated with color pictures on each page.  The reading level is between 6 and 8 years old. My boys especially like the Boxcar Children books because they always have a good mystery.

While the books are for early readers we also found out that The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set are also great to read out loud story books for younger kids. One morning my four year old brought one to me to read to him, and now we have read all four together. I love that there are color pictures on each page. As I am a big fan of the Boxcar Children Books I would highly recommend The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews of Boxcar Children early reader set.

The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set {Albert Whitman & Company Reviews}

PRIDE Reading Program Review – Yellow Level 1

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I am so excited to tell you about my experience with the PRIDE Yellow Book Program Kit – Level 1 from PRIDE Reading Program as a structured reading program for our homeschool.  One of the first things that got me excited about the PRIDE Reading Program was the digital online teachers manual!  I don’t know why more structured literacy programs do not make use of technology in this way.  With the PRIDE Reading Program I can review the future lessons anywhere I have my iPad or computer.  With the digital PRIDE Reading Program teachers manual all I need is the student workbook, letter tiles and the whiteboard.  The other nice thing about the PRIDE Reading Program is there is almost no lesson planning. In the digital teachers guide the black text is your teaching directions and the “blue” text is your script to read aloud to your student. There is a short training course but literally no planning.

To start with the PRIDE Reading Program you go through the online assessment so you know what level your child needs.  Since I have two boys who know all of the letter sounds they were both placed in the Yellow Book Program Kit.  The full Program Kit included: Student workbook, online Teacher instructions, letter tiles, Letter flashcards, text highlight overlay, small white board, markers, eraser, and bags to store everything.
PRIDE Reading Program kit

Each letter or phonemic sound is broken up into three module lessons: Introduction, Practice, and Reinforcement. I ended up splitting each module lesson into smaller chunks, since I have active boys, and a module seemed too long to do in one sitting with them. We really enjoyed making words with the letter tiles. There is a template on the back of the student workbook to help put the tiles together to form a word. The PRIDE Reading Program Yellow Level 1 kit  starts out by teaching vowel sounds and simple three letter words with one vowel.

Some of the other things I liked about the PRIDE Reading Program:

  • No Difficult San serif font! The font used in the workbook is better for Dyslexic children
  • Hands on Orton Gillingham approach which is good for Dyslexic children
  • Small whiteboard. The boys really like writing on this. In fact I let them write on the whiteboard instead of in the workbook sometimes.

Overall I really liked the PRIDE Reading Program. The only things I didn’t like were the letter tiles which will probably get lost at our house and the lessons seemed a little too long for my boys. Both of those thing can be fixed with my organization. I really loved that the teacher manual was totally online. I will definitely keep using this program with my boys.

We used PRIDE reading program Yellow Level 1, but other families used various levels of the PRIDE Reading Program so be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more views.

PRIDE Reading Program Level Kit. {PRIDE Reading Program Reviews}
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