Excelerate SPANISH Streaming {Review}

The last few years we have dabbled with a few different foreign languages. Most of them have been in book form. I was intrigued to try out Excelerate SPANISH Streaming from Excelerate SPANISH.
Excelerate SPANISH Streaming is unique because not only is it in video format, but it is interactive!

Each lesson is very involved with hand movements and other gestures that will help you remember each word or phrase. Then, as you move throughout the lesson, each phrase is used so many times that the repetition also helps you remember.

Starting at the very first video, they just jump right in with the learning! The first lesson is about taking the bus. This is something that a lot of kids understand and is relatable!
excelerate spanish video 3This is what the video looks like during each lesson. The instructor and the children are in a classroom.  It seems that the average length for each lesson is less than 45 minutes. The instructor is very engaging and friendly, especially as the lessons continue.
excelerate spanish video 1What I enjoy about each lesson is there is a general theme and then as more vocabulary words are added, more stories are told.This lesson ended up being about someone not having enough money for snacks at a game.

Some of the stories in each lesson are straightforward, and some of them are quite funny! This particular lesson had pumpkin head as one of the words. ha! I think adding in some funny words definitely keeps kids interested.
excelerate spanish videoAs you can see, the kids in the classroom get into all of the gestures. My kids are older and they thought it was silly at first, but did end up realizing that it helped them remember each phrase!

Another part of the lesson is when she has kids up front to do skits and other situations. That adds a little bit more fun and it usually ends up with people laughing.

Sometimes we did find that the lesson moved too quickly for us. I like that we could pause or rewind and watch again, that definitely helped.

Another thing that we noticed was that there really wasn’t any introduction to the language. It almost seemed like you were expected to know some of the very basic beginning of the spanish language before starting. But, with the way it is taught, it almost seems like that really isn’t necessary!

I like that there are so many different things happening in each lesson to make it a possibility that you could be in many different situations and be able to have a conversation!excelerate spanish video 2Oh, and one odd thing, being from Arizona, we always learned that the ‘ll’ is a y sound, whereas in these lessons it is a j sound. I know it is all about where the speaker is from, but that threw us just a little bit at first. Especially when it came to el pollo. Because of the fast food restaurant..ha!

These were just minor things that we noticed, other than that I think that the program is fantastic!

One thing that I wish we had though is the workbook. It would really help with the learners that learn well by reading or following along that way. I think it would also help with doing some of the things in the lesson. The workbook is available, and that might be something that I look into myself!

What there is though, to help, is eight pages of flash cards and other practice items on the Quizlet website. I would highly suggest looking into that as they are very helpful!

We haven’t gotten to Spanish 2 yet, but I have skimmed a couple of the lessons. It seems like they are more casual and the class is more involved! It also seems like the instructor is more relaxed and more into the stories. Looking forward to getting to those lessons!

All in all, I would definitely suggest this product for learning spanish! Each lesson has situations that all ages of kids will be able to relate to and therefore they tend to learn it easier and faster. It is also fun! At least in our experience!

This could definitely be used in a co-op setting for sure, if you are looking for something like that. But even with just your own children it would be great as well.

If you want to read what others though about Excelerate SPANISH Streaming, feel free to click the banner below! I always love reading about different ages and how they felt about it!
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Creating a Masterpiece Drawing Program {Review}

Every year since we have started homeschooling we have placed art as a high priority to study. It could be learning about different artists or different art methods! We have used Creating a Masterpiece before and I was excited to use them again with their Drawing Program!

What I like right away about Creating a Masterpiece is the ease of the website. Right away you know what to do, where to look, and start your lesson!
Beginning DrawingAfter signing in you are brought to your project choices. For the Drawing Program you can scroll down to find different categories. Shown above is the Beginning Drawing section.

I like the fact that there really is something for everyone. Animals and landscapes, and regular pencil and colored.

As you keep scrolling you will find categories for Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. You can definitely tell that the projects in Level 3 have more detail than the earlier ones, but really, they are all fantastic projects!

My two kids and I decided right away which projects we wanted to do. The kids decided on some from the beginning section, while I chose one from Level 2.

I like that you can skip around in the different levels and learn something from each project. Even if you don’t particularly care for the item in the drawing, it is still worth doing the project to learn something from it!
Drawing project 1
Lauren decided to try one of the landscape choices. I thought for sure she would go for the horse since we are all learning about horses since moving into the new house!
Drawing project 2
Kyle chose this drawing. My guess was a wildcard because I really had no idea what he would pick! He does like drawing cartoons, so it wasn’t a surprised that he gravitated towards the cartoon choice.
Drawing project 3
I chose this lantern. Jeffy and I love going to antique stores and finding fun and different things! Plus, the texture of the brick and the wood drew me in.

Once you log into your lesson, you are given a supply list. For the drawing ones, they are pretty simple. Some just require a pencil and paper! I am pretty sure the ones we all chose were like that. And an eraser!

You definitely want to get the best items you can. Target has sketchbooks available that work great for this, and a small set of drawing pencils as well! You can also purchase them with the link provided, through Blick. It is nice that the items needed are already chosen and ready to check out. Makes it so easy to click and be done!

Once you get your needed items, you are good to go, just click on the lesson!

Drawing lesson instructor
The course is all on video. And each step is detailed with things like, what you are looking for, why you are doing things a certain way, that sort of thing. It isn’t just a ‘do what I do’ type lesson.

You learn to look for shapes..in the beginning giraffe lesson as well as the Level 2 lesson I did, she mentions looking at shapes. That’s a big thing with drawing, no matter what level you are!

It’s fun to see those shapes then turn into the project that you are doing. I am sure this is fascinating for younger kids that start out with basic shapes in their projects!

The instructor is very easy to listen too and she encourages you to pause not only throughout the lesson, but just every now and again to rest if you need it. You don’t want to rush!

Included is a close up image of the project so you can keep that open in another tab if you want to. It sometimes help to zoom in on something like that!

At the end she also mentions looking it over and changing anything that you think needs changing. Maybe a little shading, or make something a different shape. It doesn’t have to look exactly like hers! And then, most importantly, to sign your work!

I would definitely recommend the Drawing Program from Creating a Masterpiece to anyone, of any age! We had a blast a few years ago using different projects, you can read my review here of that if you are interested!

If you want to check out what projects others did in the Drawing Program, feel free to click the tab below! I am going to check them out because there will be so many different ages of people doing the projects. I like seeing how everyone does them differently!
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What I read in September

I am getting back in the groove y’all! I finished more than one book this month! I haven’t gotten a library card at the new place yet and I didn’t bring any extra books with me from the old house…so one of those things has to be fixed soon! I am still way behind on my Goodread’s Challenge…ugh. But, here is what I read in September!
What I read in September 1
The Reader by Traci Chee – Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book–a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed–and punish the people responsible.

What I thought: This was a pretty good book, it did get me in right away and it was even better once I figured out what was going on. There were points were I was confused at the point of view. I am interested in reading the sequels!
What I read in September 2
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy – It is 1792 and France is in the grip of a seething, bloody revolution. Mobs roam the Paris streets hunting down royalists, barricades block any chance of escape, and every day hundreds die under the blade of Madame la Guillotine. But in the hearts of the condemned nobility there remains one last vestige of hope: rescue by the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel. Renowned for both his unparalleled bravery and his clever disguises, the Pimpernel’s identity remains as much a mystery to his sworn enemy, the ruthless French agent Chauvelin, as to his devoted admirer, the beautiful Lady Marguerite Blakeney.

First published in 1905, The Scarlet Pimpernel is an irresistible novel of love, gallantry, and swashbuckling adventure.

What I thought: Y’know, I was having trouble at first, but this ended up being a good book! Again, it is one that I think most people have probably read already. I liked the second half better than the first half.

What I read in September 3
The Lost King of France by Deborah Cadbury – In 1793, when Marie-Antoinette was beheaded at the guillotine, she left her adored eight-year-old son imprisoned in the Temple Tower. Far from inheriting the throne, the orphaned boy-king had to endure the hostility and abuse of a nation. Two years later, the revolutionary leaders declared the young Louis XVII dead, prompting rumors of murder. No grave was dug, no monument built to mark his passing. Soon thereafter, the theory circulated that the prince had in fact escaped from prison and was still alive. Others believed that he had been killed, his heart preserved as a relic. The quest for the truth continued into the twenty-first century when, thanks to DNA testing, a stolen heart found within the royal tombs brought an exciting conclusion to the two-hundred-year-old mystery.

A fascinating blend of royalist plots, palace intrigue, and modern science, The Lost King of France is a moving and dramatic tale that interweaves a pivotal moment in France’s history with a compelling detective story.

What I thought: The first part of the book was a lot of back story. It was interesting. Then came all of the scandal and conspiracy theories. It got a little repetitive. The ending was just kind of sudden. It was still an interesting book, just wish it was a little different.

So, that’s what I read in September, as always, let me know if you have any title recommendations! Hopefully I can get a library card soon!

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Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 11 {Review}

We haven’t done a lot with Grammar this year in our homeschool. I was excited to receive Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 11 from Easy Grammar Systems recently.
Easy GrammarWhen I first took the books out of the box, I appreciated that the covers were a great quality. One of those that you just can’t tear. Trust me, we all took a turn trying to tear them, ha! But that is such a great thing to include in curriculum, especially something like a workbook that is going to be used often!

The book covers are very easy on the eyes. The wording is very simple and not distracting. We got the Teacher Edition and the Test Booklet. As you flip through the book, the font is a bit basic, but once we started using the curriculum, it didn’t bother me.

I love when curriculum makes it easy for me. Especially in high school. This is definitely easy!
Easy GrammarEach page is just one days work. They are labeled as Day 1, Day 2, etc. So easy for me as a parent!

And definitely easy for the child as it isn’t overwhelming. It shouldn’t take them very long to do that days work at all! And that means they won’t get burnt out on it either! They mention that it should take around five minutes to do, and five minutes to go over, if you choose to do that.

I like that they suggest doing it how it best fits your needs. They have suggestions, but allow for differences, which is nice.

Each worksheet is pretty similar in how it is separated. For the most part each page has four sections:

  • Capitalization – There is a sentence that doesn’t have any capital letters, so it needs to be fixed.
  • Punctuation – Depending on what punctuation is being learned, that is what needs to be fixed.
  • Parts of Speech – Could be adjectives or conjunctions or any other part of speech, and there are different exercises to do in those sections.
  • Sentence Combining – There are a few sentences listed and they need to be combined into just one sentence.

There are other sections sprinkled throughout the book as well. Analogies, Compound Sentences, that sort of thing.

They base the book on mastering..so what they learn will eventually show up again and again throughout the book, just in a different way. This helps student learn thoroughly.

The book can be written in if you have just one student, or if you have more than one like I do, you can just make a copy or two.
Easy GrammarAll of the answers are listed in the back of the book, with coordinated Day numbers. You can see that they are all squished into each Day, but there aren’t that many questions/answers that it bothers me too much.
Easy GrammarThe other book, the Test Booklet, has 18 tests included. It is based on the ten lessons previous.

This book is perforated and can be torn out and given to the student. Or like the other book, can just be copied if you have more than one child.

One thing is, the answers to the test are just to the left of the test. So if the student is taking the test in the book, the book should be folded over so that they can’t see the answers. We just made copies anyway, so we didn’t have to worry about that, but I wanted to mention it anyway.

I have really enjoyed this Grammar curriculum so far! Easy Grammar Systems  have a great thing going! And honestly, I wish I had started using this when my kids were younger!

If you want to see what others thought about their experience with Easy Grammar Systems  that includes different grade levels, feel free to click the banner below! They have so many options to check out!
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I lied..

With all of the moving and craziness that came along with getting this house, I looked at the calendar and was amazed that we had only 11 weeks left of school! Well, I lied. I just looked at it again and now it is more like 15 or so. Ack!
i liedThe funny thing is, I haven’t told the kids yet.

I am hoping that they forgot how long ago it was that I said we had 11 weeks left. I mean, we took over a month long break so they probably forgot, right?

For some reason I think I thought that we only had a 30 week school year.


So it really wasn’t me lying….I just forgot! lol

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College-Ready Writing Essentials™ from BetterRhetor {Review}

The kids have been taking a few college classes the last few semesters. As you know, there are a lot of papers that need to be written in these classes. I was very excited to get the chance to review College-Ready Writing Essentials™ from BetterRhetor. It couldn’t have come at a better time!

BetterRhetor logo

College-Ready Writing Essentials™ will work for many different people! I suggest it for kids that are in early to mid high school. Although you can also use it as a senior or if you are already in college. And in fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to use it as an adult!

We received the Full Package. There is also a Premium Package. The difference between the two is that the Premium Package includes some extras, the most exciting is personalized feedback on your essay by William Bryant who is the founder and CEO.

When we first logged onto the program, my daughter had just been assigned a paper in her English class. She gets overwhelmed just starting the paper. Once she gets going it is easier for her, but she gets a definite mental block at the beginning.

As we started moving through the lessons, we came to lesson three which was Selecting a Topic. You guys, this was such perfect timing. There are so many tips included in each lesson, this one included.

It broke everything down in very easy to understand terms…and she understood. She understood something that her father and I were trying to explain to her and not having luck with.
BetterRhetor worksheetIncluded in lesson three were worksheets…they are also available as a download that you can print off or you can just type on the screen to answer the questions!

While this essay topic wasn’t what her assignment was on, just this one chapter helped her immensely on being able to pick the topic out of her choices given.
BetterRhetor paperAs you go further along, there are examples of papers. This really gives the student an example of how these essays should be written. One of the papers was actually on one of the topics of her assigned essay! Seeing one out on paper also made it not look so overwhelming to her when she is assigned a certain amount of words!

There are a total of 25 lessons and they are broken up into sections.

  • Overview – just a basic overview with one lesson.
  • Planning – covers lessons 2-11 and helps pick out a paper topic
  • Drafting – covers lessons 12-19 and goes through each section of the paper (Introduction, body, conclusion)
  • Revising – covers lessons 20-23 and gives tips on revising your own paper
  • Finalizing – covers lessons 24-25 and goes over the formatting of the paper. Since we used it for college papers, they mostly used MLA format and that is covered.

We took a lot of time on the beginning lessons. That’s where Lauren got stuck the most is just beginning. The rest of the program is so very helpful, but I wanted to make sure we took our time with it.

You can mark complete the lessons that you are done with, which is nice. We are able to go back over the lessons that we wanted to spend more time on. I love that you can go at your own pace. We just didn’t mark those as completed so that we knew which ones to go back to.

Lauren started taking college classes at 15 and while writing papers was something she enjoyed, she didn’t have all of the college skills right away. That is one reason why I suggested it would be great for early high school aged kids. It can help for high school papers too!

You get lifetime access to this program, which I think is fantastic! There is also a 30-day money back guarantee, but I can’t imagine anyone needing to do that! If you want to read what others thought of College-Ready Writing Essentials™ from BetterRhetor, feel free to click the banner below! I know I am curious how the Premium Package was so I will definitely be reading about those experiences!
BR-better-RHETOR-Reviews-2019College-Ready Writing Essentials™ from BetterRhetor


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What I read in August

Oh my goodness.. This month is even worse than last month! I am not sure what is happening to me. I miss reading so much but I just haven’t been able to do it lately! We have been driving back and forth to both houses so often and just busy busy busy at each house. I can’t even read during breakfast, which I love to do. At least school will start up again soon, and that will help! Here is what I read in August!

What I read in August
All the Lost Things by Michelle Sacks – A simmering family drama about a father and daughter who embark on a road trip through the American South — but what they’re leaving behind is as important as what lies ahead.

When we first meet seven-year-old Dolly, she immediately grabs us with a voice that is both precocious and effervescent. It has been a while since her dad has spent time with her, just the two of them, and so when he scoops her up and promises to take her on the adventure of a lifetime, Dolly is thrilled.
The first days on the road are incredibly exciting. Every pit stop promises a new delight for Dolly and her favourite plastic horse, Clemesta, who she’s brought along for the adventure. There are milkshakes, shopping sprees, a theme park, and all the junk food she isn’t allowed to eat under her mother’s watchful eye. And, for the first time, she has her father’s attention all to herself. But as they travel farther south, into a country Dolly no longer recognizes, her dad’s behavior grows increasingly erratic. He becomes paranoid and irresponsible, even a little scary. The adventure isn’t fun anymore, but home is ever further away. And Dolly isn’t sure if she’ll ever get back.
A compulsively readable work of psychological suspense from the first mile to the last, All the Lost Things introduces a remarkable young heroine who leaps off the page, charts a life-changing journey, and ultimately reveals the sometimes heartbreaking intersections of love, truth, and memory.

What I thought: It was definitely interesting reading from the prospective of a 7yo girl. I wasn’t sure how that would go through the whole book, but it added something. I thought that the book needed a little more…something. Not sure exactly what though. It was a good read!

That’s it. One book. Just one book for the whole month. Kind of crazy, right? Let me know if you have any book suggestions for when I can start reading again!!

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What I read in July

Wow.. I am so behind on my Goodreads Challenge you guys! With trying to move, staying in both houses, having all sorts of problems… I just haven’t had the time to read like I usually do! So, this blog post will definitely be short and sweet, lol.. Here is what I read in July!

What I read in July 2
Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran – When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the mid-nineteenth century, it expects a quick and easy conquest. India is fractured and divided into kingdoms, each independent and wary of one another, seemingly no match for the might of the English. But when they arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, the British army is met with a surprising challenge.

Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies – one male and one female – and rides into battle, determined to protect her country and her people. Although her soldiers may not appear at first to be formidable against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi refuses to back down from the empire that is determined to take away the land she loves.

Told from the unexpected perspective of Sita – Queen Lakshmi’s most favored companion and most trusted soldier in the all-female army – Rebel Queen shines a light on a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction. In the tradition of her best-selling novel, Nefertiti,and through her strong, independent heroines fighting to make their ways in a male-dominated world, Michelle Moran brings nineteenth-century India to rich, vibrant life.

What I thought: I enjoyed this book, I didn’t think I would but it surprised me. The perspective of hearing it told from Sita was nice. It was interesting reading about her upbringing and how she grew through the book.

What I read in July1
Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon – It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice.

Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna….

Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history … and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past … or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong….

What I thought: Well, what can you say, it’s another Outlander book.. ha! I wanted to read up to the point that the shows are at, so I stopped here. This is another reason why I am so behind in my Challenge, these books aren’t short! I did like reading about Brianna traveling to get to her mom, especially after watching the show. Reading ahead does not interest me for some reason with this series, I would rather watch it first. Usually that is the other way around for me!

That is what I read in July! I am hoping I can catch up a little bit, but I have a feeling I won’t be meeting my Challenge goal this year! 🙁

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Our goat yard..

When we first moved in, this area was all just trees and brush! I love our goat yard!
our goat yard
This is one thing I will definitely miss once we move. Granted, they will have a bigger yard, but it won’t have trees and things to jump on. At least for a while.

The goats have gotten into their groove here too.

Mama Goat was very skittish when we got her, don’t think she was given much attention at her first home. She is like a different goat completely now!

Charlie mourned Mikey for a long time.. Then his horn fell off and he was embarrassed and hid for a while. But he is right in with the other goats now, even though he can’t head butt as hard as they can.

Cody is a monster. I don’t know how he got so big, we were never showed who the dad was, it must have been the biggest goat there though. He’s so awkward too, since he is still fairly young. The other two can run and be crazy, and he tries…he is just so big…ha!

But we love them, and are excited for them to have more room. Everything else will just come in time…

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What I read in June

I can’t believe it is already July! I am so behind schedule with my Goodreads challenge because of just life stuff. Plus, I am reading books in the Outlander series that take me longer to get through.. I am going to take a break after my current one is done so I will be caught up with the shows for a while. 😉 Here is what I read in June, a whole two books!

What I read in June1
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon – Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.

What I thought: This wasn’t my favorite so far, but it started getting better. It was pretty similar to the show so I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.

What I read in June2
The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 1 by Larry Gonick – The Cartoon History of the Modern World is a wickedly funny take on modern history. It is essentially a complete and up–to–date course in college level Modern World History, but presented as a graphic novel. In an engaging and humorous graphic style, Larry Gonick covers the history, personalities and big topics that have shaped our universe over the past five centuries, including the Industrial Revolution, the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the evolution of political, social, economic, and scientific thought, Communism, Fascism, Nazism, the Cold War, Globalization––and much more.

Volume I of the Cartoon History of the Modern World picks up from Gonick’s award winning Cartoon History of the Universe Series. That series began with the Big Bang and ended with Christopher Columbus sailing for the New World. This book starts off with peoples that Columbus “discovered” and ends with the U.S. Revolution.

What I thought: This was a fun way to refresh your memory on things that happened. Some of the cartoons are pretty funny. I had to stop reading them out loud though during homeschool because some are just not appropriate for me to read to the kids, lol.


And that is what I read in June. This year has been crazy for reading, I need to take it up a notch for sure! How are you doing on your Goodreads challenge?

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