{Review} Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar

Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

Peanut and I had the pleasure of reviewing Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar by jollyliteracy.com.  Jollyliteracy.com’s parent company is just2ducks  LLC.  We were sent Jolly Phonics Teacher’s Book in print letters, Jolly Phonics Student Book 1, 2 and 3, Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher’s Book in print letters, Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book, and Jolly Songs in print letters.

Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review


Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

In the Teacher’s Book for Jolly Phonics there are introduction pages and the teacher pages for Jolly Phonics Student Books 1, 2, and 3.  Every section, including the introduction pages, has a color coded edge, which I love!  The edges are color coded to match the book…Red for Student Book 1, Blue for Student Book 2, and Green for Student Book 3.   Then in the upper corners of the book it will tell you exactly which page in the student book the lesson is for.  For example:  Student Book 1: Page 17.  It is very easy to find the page that you need in the Teacher’s Book!!  Everything is laid out for me as a teacher and every lesson includes a copy of the student page that is being taught.  I love that multiple student books are included in one teacher’s guide!

I decided to start Peanut off in Jolly Phonics Student Book 1 and the lessons are the perfect length for her.  She has done the lessons with a smile on her face and asks to do more when we are done.  Her lessons take no more than 15 minutes a day and she is introduced to a different letter sound every day.  At first I thought it would be too much for her working on a different sound each day but she has not had a problem.  She has been reviewing their sounds, working on blending, and practicing letter formation.  She starts off the lesson by reviewing previous sounds she has learned earlier in the book.  She is then introduced to the new sound through a story.  There is a story provided for me to read to her or I can use one of my choice.  I read the story that is provided in the Teacher’s Book.  Then there parts to the lesson: Action, Formation, Blending, Sounding, Word Bank, Dictation, and Further Ideas.  She then completes the lesson page in the Student Book which includes working on her handwriting and a few additional activities.  She even enjoys that she has a picture that she can color.

Jolly Phonics Student Books 2 and 3 and Jolly Grammar 1 are set up similar to Jolly Phonics Student Book 1. The Teacher Book for Jolly Grammar 1 is set up like it is for Jolly Phonics Teacher’s Book.  There is still one lesson per page for all student books and the student continues building on what they have learned in the prior lessons.  The short lessons are perfect for younger children!   All of the student books the pages are bright and colorful.  Don’t let this discourage you if you have a child that is easily distracted because Peanut is one who is easily distracted and has a short attention span and she did wonderful throughout the review!  I am going to continue Jolly Phonics Book 1 with Peanut since she is loving it and asking for more!

Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review

Jolly Songs in print letters is a song book that has a cd of all 47 songs included. These songs have been created to help children learn and remember letter sounds by singing them to well known tunes such as ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’, ‘Old MacDonald’ and many more!  The songs are catchy and easy to learn.  In the back of the song book there are a couple pages of extra games and activities that can be done with your students.  Even younger children will enjoy listening to these songs.


I invite you to return later this week for my ‘Can Do Cubes’ review.  Another wonder product by the same company!

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{Review} ABeCeDarian

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews

Recently my family had the opportunity to review ABeCeDarian Interactive A Workbook by ABeCeDarian Company.




Quoted from the ABeCeDarian website:

The ABeCeDarian Reading Program helps students quickly become fluent and accomplished readers with a set of engaging, easy-to-use, and affordable materials.

When children use ABeCeDarian, they learn to read quickly because:

  • it focuses only on essential skills and knowledge
  • it provides the right kind and right amount of practice
  • it provides precise and productive error correction

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews


The teacher’s manual is packed full with information and the lessons themselves.  Please do set aside time to read the manual before beginning your first lesson.  There are a lot of important information in the first 50+ pages of the manual.  You can find the PDF Teacher’s Manual here for free.  There are a total of 48 lessons available for Level A and ABeCeDarian offers a placement assessment to determine which program is the best fit for your child.

The lessons are open and go and are designed to be done one on one.  I know having the lesson scripted out is a bonus for some homeschool moms.  The scripts for the parents are in bold and is easy to find what needs to be said next.  There are instructions and what the student’s responses *should be* are in between.  We all know that we get unexpected answers from our children when asked questions.  So far the lessons haven’t taken us longer than around 15 minutes to complete.  The interactive student workbook is used during the lesson.  It does take the workbook a few minutes to load, so please be patient while it is loading.  Since the workbook is interactive through a web browser it can be used on any device such as a laptop with a trackpad or a touchscreen monitor, Kindle, iPad, or other tablet.  It works on any device that has a browser!

ABeCeDarian keeps the interactive workbook very simple.  There is no sound, fancy pictures, and minimal color.  This helps keep distractions down to a bare minimum.  It is great if you have a child that is easily distracted by all of the fancy artwork, multicolor display, and sounds that is found in most children’s programs.  I found it to be a nice change in scenery and helped us stay focused on the assignment that we were working on.

Some of the activities that are a part of the interactive workbook include tap and say, reading words, spelling practice, spelling and reading chains, word puzzles  and spelling tests.   Sweet Pea enjoyed the activities like the puzzles and tap and say.  She did find writing a bit challenging using the touch pad on the computer.  However, using the touch pad gave her practice using it!


We came across one minor technical issue that I could not get it to duplicate again afterwards.  In one of the lessons when Sweet Pea was working on spelling words, the mouse wouldn’t get go of the letter A so she could select another letter.  I tried to see if I could get it to release and eventually it released but then immediately another letter was attached to the mouse pointer and wouldn’t let go.  None of the other screens that were opened had mouse problems.  I had to close the browser and reopen it to get this to stop and all was fine again.

We had an unexpected change in plans when we first received ABeCeDarian.  Originally, the plan was to have Lil’ Bit and Peanut review this program.  Right around the time we received access to the program they both decided they didn’t want to do any more online school work.  It was in their best interest to allow them to take their requested break from computer work.  Sweet Pea wanted to do the review.  She is still a fairly new reader herself and it was the perfect time to take a break from what she has been working on to do this review.  She was able to review and reinforce what she has been working on all year.  I am glad that I had her review ABeCeDarian.  This is helping her build her confidence in both reading and spelling.  I would like to try ABeCeDarian with Peanut and Lil’ Bit when they are both ready to resume work on the computer.  While Little Man  is not ready for anything formal at this time, maybe in another 6-9 months when he is closer to 5 years old he will be.  I think this will be great for him since it is set up so simple and non-distracting.

The Interactive A workbook is very affordable at $14.95 for a one year subscription and each subsequent year is offered for $4.95.  As mentioned above the Teacher’s Manual is available for free in PDF format or you can purchase a print copy directly from ABeCeDarian for $9.95.

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{Review} My Mother’s Quilts

I had the wonderful pleasure of reviewing My Mother’s Quilts Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith by Ramona Richards.  I was thrilled when this book came up for review as I do some quilting as did my husband’s grandmother and my grandmother.  This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys quilting!

The hardback book is 219 pages and has 60 beautiful stories inspired by thirty heirloom quilts.  Every story begins with a Bible verse and ends with a prayer starter.  We get a glimpse into the author’s life as we read through the book and read the stories.  There is a ribbon book mark to mark your place while you are reading this book.  It is handy to have in case you need to keep your place in the book but I will say putting the book down was a very hard thing to do!!  Every story left me with wanting to read another one.  Throughout each story you also get to look at a full size photo of one of the heirloom quilts along with a close up photo of a section of the quilt.  All of the quilts are beautiful!!

Reading these stories bring back memories as both of our wonderful grandmothers made quilts for my husband and I and our children.  In fact the one that is currently on our bed is one that my husband’s grandmother made for his dad, who has since passed.  My husband’s grandmother introduced me to quilting on my first trip to see her at her house.  While that trip was memorable in more ways than one, I remember sitting in their living room hand sewing octagons and working on the ‘Grandmother’s Flower Garden’ pattern.  Something that I will cherish forever.  I loved getting to view photos of the beautiful quilts in this book and it has given me inspiration on what to do with some of the fabric that I have, including some fabric that came from my grandmother’s stash that I received on a recent trip to see her.


About the Author:

Ramona Richards is an award-winning editor, speaker, author of nine books, and a frequent contributor to devotional collections. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves Nashville, which she’s called home since she was ten. Sensing her mother was near the end of her life, Ramona documented her mother’s stories and lessons behind each family quilt. These stories form the devotions in My Mother’s Quilts. Find out more about Ramona and her books by visiting her online at ramonarichards.com.


Win one of the quilts featured in #MyMothersQuilts by Ramona Richards. Also up for grabs: loads of other prizes including quilting hand warmers, coloring books, and 25 signed copies of Ramona’s book. Winners will be emailed after the contest ends on June 30, 2016. Click the image to get started!


thumbnail_Win This Friendship Quilt!


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.  My review are my thoughts alone and I was not required to write a positive review.


{Review} Bible Belle ~ Esther the Belle of Patience

I had the pleasure of reviewing Esther the Belle of Patience written by Erin Weidemann and Illustrated by Rob Corley and Chuck Vollmer.

BelleBible1This book is about a young lady Rooney who is frustrated with a situation on her soccer team.  She thinks what is taking place is very unfair to her and her teammates.  Follow her as she and Mari travel to the time of Esther.  They begin by watching a scene unfold where the queen is missing and not fulfilling her duties.  Then Esther is brought in and she is handling everything with patience.  While watching everything unfolding Rooney is learning a lot about being patient and how to apply it in her situation.  Back on the field Rooney applies what she has learned and then she receives a bell of patience

The pages in the book are beautifully illustrated!  I enjoyed the story about learning patience and overall this is a great book for girls to learn about patient.

Social Media:
Bible Belles: http://biblebelles.com
Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/165332647
Propeller Consulting, LLC, was very gracious and offered the opportunity for me to offer a copy of this book to one of my readers.  This giveaway is available to residents of the US and Canada ages 18 & up.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

{Review} MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review
My family had the opportunity to review MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs by MaxScholar.  We received a one year online subscription for two children and one teacher to use MaxGuru.  MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs are available for PreK through 12th grade.

Included in MaxGuru are:

  • MaxPhonics
  • MaxReading
  • MaxWords
  • MaxMusic
  • MaxVocab
  • MaxPlaces
  • MaxBios

On the parent’s dashboard I can check how Sweet Pea and Peanut are doing, MaxScholar News, Tutorials, and a contact form to contact MaxScholar.  For student reports I can choose the time frame that I want to check.  It will give me their reading level, pretest score, last login, overall scores, and detail scores per program.  It also shows where the children spent the most time in the program.  Sweet Pea spent time in every program while Peanut spent the majority of her time in MaxPhonics and MaxReading.

There was a placement exam that I found placed both of the girls higher than where they should have been.  One of the girls got the majority of the questions wrong (I didn’t expect her to get them right because they were all word questions designed for older children.) and she was placed in 5th grade reading.  MyMax does allow the teacher to adjust where the students are and I adjusted both girls to an appropriate level based on their abilities.

When students log into the program, they are given the choice of choosing a program or starting off where they last left off.  I really like that the kids are given an option on where they would like to start.

One of the first things SweetPea and I checked out together was  MaxMusic because she loves music.  We found that she didn’t know any of the artists or any of the songs.  She enjoys singing Christian songs and all of the songs are secular.  There are a few artists on the list that I would feel comfortable with her reading the lyrics but the majority of the others I would not.  Most of the artists/songs would appeal to older children.  Since the program goes down to PreK I would love to see more songs appropriate for younger children.   In the picture below you can see the artists available.


There are three games available for every artist’s song.  The student reads the segment of the lyrics (there is no option to have it read to the student for beginning or struggling readers) and then selects one of the three games; Identify, Fillers, and Piano.  In identify, the students will identify the verbs in the lyrics.  When the students think they are done they will click on done.  The student will be told how many they got wrong and they will see the correct answers highlighted to the right.  Depending on how many they get right will determine if they will earn any stars and how many.  If they miss too many they will be expected to try again.  The Fillers game asked the students to select a noun, verb , or adjective from the highlighted box.  Similar to the Identify game, the students will earn stars based on how many correct answers the get.  The piano is a great feature!  The students will play memory by clicking on the keys that were played for them.  They only click on a few at a time.  Once the segment of the song is complete, the piano will play that segment in it’s entirety.  MaxMusic does require Mozilla Firefox or Chrome to access the piano.

There are two additional music games that both Sweet Pea and Peanut enjoyed.  There is Pair the Sound and MaxGuitar.  In Pair the Sound you match sounds in a game of memory.  In MaxGuitar a song is selected and arrows go across the screen.  The student’s job is to click on the correct arrow as the arrow hits the time bar.

MyMax2  MyMax3


Max Phonics learn phonics based on the Orton Gillingham method.  Each lesson include visual, tactile, and auditory activities.  MaxPhonics is one of the areas that Peanut spent the majority of her time in.  She enjoyed the activities that were presented to her.  The sandbox does require Google Chrome for interactive writing but the program will let you know that you need the browser and give you the option of skipping this portion and moving on.  Some of the activities/games include listening to a word and entering the first letter of the word and looking at pictures & listening to their sound & selecting the pictures that start with the sound they are working on.  When you are through you get the option of moving on or repeating the activities.

MaxReading students are guided through various reading activities.  There are 13 levels, called chapters and they range from 0-12.  In chapter 0 the students look at pictures and then answers questions based on the questions.  Chapters 1 and 2 the students have the option of following along while the passage is read to them.  By the time they reach Chapter 3 they will be expected to be able to read the entire passage.  They dissect the passage by topic, main idea, and important details.  They will be expected to dissect the passage in other programs and is important that this section has been used before using some of the other MaxScholar programs.


In the following three sections, MaxWords, MaxPlaces, and MaxBios , I found these were designed more for older students.  Children in PreK through around 3rd grade may not be ready for the expectations of these sections.  In both MaxPlaces and MaxBios students are expected to read lengthy passages and dissect the passages like they learned in MaxReading and then answer comprehensive questions.  In MaxBios, students will read the biographies of famous musicians, famous athletes, and famous men & women and in MaxPlaces, students will read about over 50 cities around the world.  There are questions to be answered in both of these as well.  There is no assistance in reading the passages, so if the child needs help reading the passages, a parent will need to read it to them.  The comprehension questions only allow one time to answer the questions correctly.  MaxPlaces  does require Mozilla Firefox or Chrome for the interactive portion of this program.  Working in MaxWords the students will learn how to build words by learning their roots, prefixes, suffixes, and rules.

MaxVocab has a dictionary divided into 14 levels (K through grade 12 and an unassigned category).  Students learn definitions, how the word is used in a sentence, and the synonyms & antonyms.  They have two fun games to go along with the MaxVocab dictionary.  One of which Sweet Pea loves and that is hangman.  The other game is a definition game matching various definitions to their words.  Both games begin at level 2 & level 3 respectively.

This is a great program to supplement what your kids are learning during the year and something my two girls want to continue using.  I look forward to the girls being able to use more of the programs as their skills increase!

You can find MaxScholar at any of the following social media sites.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaxScholarLLC/?fref=nf
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{Review} Essential Skills Advantage

Essential Skills Advantage Review
Our family had the opportunity to review the Complete Home Learning Suite by Essential Skills Advantage.  We received a one year online subscription for two students.


Essential Skills Advantage Review

The Complete Home Learning Suite by Essential Skills Advantage has over 14,000 lessons available in Math (grades K-6), Reading (grades K-6), Language & Grammar (grades K-6), Science (grades K-3), and Geography (grades 4-6).  It is all online and self paced.

The classroom is nicely laid out.  Every student is listed and there are three options to click on; Info, Marks, and Signin.  Under Info you can change your students information, including changing the password.  There is also the option to require a password.  I like the option that ESA has given us to choose whether or not we want to require a password.  Marks gives you an overview on how your students are doing, how much time they have spent on each area, and the last time they logged in.  You will see how much of each unit has been completed and the average score of each section.  You do have the option of tracking this information or not.  ESA gives a breakdown of every individual page that the child works on, how many attempts have been make, and the total time.  There is a icon for completion certificates and to create a report card.

When the girls log in on their account they select the subject (math, reading, language & grammar, science or geography), then they choose the grade level (K-6, K-3, or 4-6 depending on the subject), and then the student selects the program.  I really liked that we could choose where to start off and which grade level we wanted to work in.  In the upper left hand corner there are a set of buttons to allow easy switching between students, subjects, grades, and programs.


Essential Skills Advantage Review

I let Sweet Pea and Peanut choose what they wanted to work on.  Peanut requested math and reading activities and she thoroughly enjoyed the matching game and that was the most requested game.  Sweet Pea explored all over in science, math, reading, and spelling.  Once I logged them in they could work for the most part unassisted, even for the one who is a non reader.  There was one time when Sweet Pea answered the question correct and brought it to my attention that she was correct but it said she was wrong.  I reassured her that I knew she answered it correctly and it was alright.  The answer being marked wrong did affect her overall scoring.  The directions for every activity are read to them and there is an instructions button if they need the directions read again.  There are a variety of activities for every subject and grade level & the activities held the interest of my girls.  This program is a supplementary program and the girls have learned a lot from using it!



The Complete Home Learning Suite is an affordable program.  It is $7.99 a month for one student and an additional $0.99 per student per month.  ESA does offer other plans including plans for up to 10 students, 6 month and yearly plans.

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{Review} Talking Fingers Inc.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

We had the pleasure of reviewing Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc.  My family received a one-year subscription for three users to review.  I grew up around computers.  It wasn’t a common thing in the late 70’s & early 80’s to have a computer in the house.  Since one of my dad’s hobbies was (and still is) computers there was a computer in the house long before I was born.  I learned how to type the word ‘run’ (in DOS) before I could write the word so I could play my games.  Since we are in the times where computers are used daily, classes are available online etc. it is very important to learn how to type correctly the first time and not have to reteach yourself how to type properly because you picked up bad habits early on.  I was thrilled when a program for younger children became available to the Crew to review.


Talking Fingers Inc. Review
Read, Write, & Type is an online program and there are no downloads needed to use it!  This program is geared for children ages 6-9.  The children learn to type correctly at the same time as learning how to read and write.

The teacher portal is nice.  When you log in as the parent there are links to the User Manual and Administrator Guide at the top of the page.  Then you have buttons for: Your Licenses, Your Associates, Your Students, Your Profile, and Logout.  Some of the features available on these pages are not necessarily used in a homeschool setting.  The teacher portal is set up to be used in a co-op and school setting as well.

Your Licenses
The default page when you log in is Your Licenses page.  There is a link to purchase additional licenses.  The link will take you to the page to purchase home and school software as well as a couple of books.  Your licenses will appear below the link.  Talking Fingers Inc. sells multiple online products and each will be linked on this page.  It will tell you how many slots you have purchased, how many slots are in use, and how many you have free.  Below that it will provide the details of how many licenses that are assigned to you, which product licenses you have, how many are in use, when they were purchased, who purchased them, when they are active, how many times they have been used.  One thing I have noticed is that the usage count doesn’t always change every time my children have logged in.  Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.  I log my children in myself before turning the computer over to them so I know they are being logged into the correct account.  For instance two of my three licenses that I received for this review were activated after the first license was.  It says that they have only logged in twice while the first license has logged in 119 times.  While I would like to say that one child has logged in 119 times I highly doubt that is the case for the length that we have been reviewing this product.  I know for absolute certainty that the other two licenses have logged in more than 2 times between the two of them.

Your Associates
I don’t have any experience using the Your Associates page but this is used in a co-op or school setting when adult associates are added to the account to manage student accounts.

Your Students
This is the page where all student data is located.  For me my three children using Read, Write & Type are listed.  I can add, modify, delete any of my licenses.  It lists my students individually, which license they are using, a place for supervisor information (not assigned in my case since I am using it in a homeschool setting), the level they are currently at, and the percentages for phonics, reading, spelling, and average.  When I click on each of my children I can edit their profile, including change the password, see their progress in Read, Write & Type, their grades, which lesson they are on and more.  I like the bar graph with their grades for each level.  It gives a quick view of how they are doing overall. In their profile, a nice feature is that you can set when they are allowed to log in, which days, and what you consider as passing.  You can also change the lesson settings for the child but it is advised to only make the change(s) when the student’s account is not currently using Read, Write & Type.  Changing the lesson settings allows you to move your child ahead or go back and review a section.  It will not change their scores.

Your Profile & Logout
Your Profile allows you to edit all of your information such as name, address, email, and password.  The Logout button of course logs you out of your account.

Read, Write & Type is popular with my girls and they enjoy playing the games.  They have also tried to stall going to bed by asking to play it.

When my girls are logged into their accounts it starts with a very catchy song and then goes to the main page which is the keyboard with their complete letters, left and right hands, and a scene with Vexor the Virus in it.  As my girls progress through the program their keyboard fills up with the letters and sounds that they have been working on.

Girls Screen
You can see in the picture above that the girls are in different parts of the program.  Once they are here they click on Vexor (the green thing above the blue house) to see where they go next.  Vexor will take them to different places depending where in the city or on the houses they click.

Here are a few examples of the games that they play:
When they click on the tree they work on typing sentences from a story.  The flying saucer has them choose a sound or a storyteller that they have already been introduced for the game.  The blimp takes them to the theatre.  They are shown a picture and depending on the directions they must decide if the answers are correct by typing the letter sound that they are working on or incorrect by clicking the space bar.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Talking Fingers Inc. Review
Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

When they are finished they earn pieces of their Certificates of merit which can be printed.  When they have completed the entire program there will be a total of 10 certificates of merit.

Sweet Pea likes all of the games but says that going to park and working on getting the storyteller across the park is her favorite one of them all.  Peanut says her favorite games are when she works on the sounds of the letters in the theatre and library.  Lil’ Bit isn’t sure which game is her favorite.

One thing I have noticed is that two of my girls get frustrated during one section of the program.  It is the section where they have to type the same letters over and over.  It takes them a little longer to type the sequence than what appears to be allowed.  It doesn’t show a counter with the time that it has to be completed but it isn’t long.  Vexor starts taking breaths and eventually blows the story teller away to start over if there are too many pauses during typing or if they hit the wrong button too many times.    When the girls get stuck at this section, after a couple of attempts, I will help them type the letters faster so they can continue on.

We will be continuing with Read, Write & Type until the girls finish the program.  They really enjoy using program!  I highly recommend the program to anyone who has 6-9 year olds.  Even some younger and older children may enjoy this as well!


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