Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Spencer Learning - Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {TOS Review}

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}
Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

We received the downloadable software from Spencer Learning for the Ultimate Phonics Reading Program for review with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew.  Their motto is "Helping people of all ages become better readers".  Here is a quote from their website...

"Most of the 6 out of 10 children who are behind in reading at the end of 3rd grade never catch up. They are weak readers or non-readers for the rest of their lives, unless they receive special instruction such as Ultimate Phonics." 

I work with children that are in the public school system (in Australia) and I can tell you that is very true.  It's a sad statistic.  

My 8 year old son who is in grade 3 used this program.  We found the program easy to install and we were able to start using right away, always a bonus in my book.  The Ultimate Phonics Reading Program has over 7,000 pages which has been divided into 262 lessons.  There are more than 4,400 words broken down and sounded out, as well as over 2,100 sentences that are also broken down and sounded out.  This goes from basic words to advanced words.

Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}Navigating through the program is quite simple.  As you can see in the photo on the left, you select your lesson (remember there are 262 of them!) using the drop box, and then next to the lesson the drop box called "word" comes down and you have even more options: Idea/Pattern, Word list, Words, and Sentences (in photo below).  

By putting your cursor over the letters and words you will hear the blending and sounds. When you put your cursor over the letters in the yellow boxes you hear just the sounds, when you put your cursor over the word you hear the entire word.  My son likes to make a game of it and say the words or sounds before the computer said it.

You can easily go forward and backward, you can check your history, and even search.  There is a menu and help button.  It is a very simple, but effective program.  I found my son using it for longer than I asked (1 lesson a day).

All lessons are downloadable and printable.

If you're not sure where to start you can have your child (or even yourself) take the free reading test here.  Any age can use the program.  It would be great for ESL as well.  There are more free resources here, seriously, you should check that page out.  :)

I was quite impressed with the program.  It is quite simple.  It's not super fancy.  It kind of looks old school computer.  BUT sometimes you don't need all the fancy bells and whistles.  Simple is better.  My son is in 3rd grade, I wouldn't say he is a weak reader, more reluctant.  He would much rather be outside playing with sticks and riding his bike, but being a strong reader is important to me.  We will continue using this program even though our review period is over.  I have found it to be beneficial for him.  It's something he can do in short periods of time each day and he enjoys it.
Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

For a 10 day free trial click here!
By the way, it works on Windows and Mac.

They are running a $20 off sale until September 30th, which brings it down to $49.95.  This is a one time charge with no expiration date or subscription.  You can use this for more than one child as well.

Watch their quick demo below:

 Find Spencer Learning on Facebook and Twitter.

For more TOS reviews click below...
Ultimate Phonics Reading Program {Spencer Learning}

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles (CTM Publishing Atlanta) {TOS Review Crew}

The Pray-ers / Book 1 TroublesThe Prayer-ers Book 1 "Troubles" by Mark S. Mirza is a Christian Fiction book about the power of prayer. It is published by CTM Publishing Atlanta.  It follows the life of three men from three different time periods.  In the book, we meet Epaphrus (a friend of the Apostle Paul), Brother Alexander Rich (a circuit-riding preacher in Georgia during the 19th century), and Dr. Dale (a track coach at a secular university and leader in the church during our current time period).

Pray-ers talks about the spiritual warfare around us that we do not see.  It talks of demons and angels.  (And just on a side note, I greatly appreciate Mr. Mirza's consideration of not capitalising the names of demons and satan.  I always think of capitalising names as a sign of respect and attention, both of which satan does not deserve.)  

It follows these demons and talks about some of their "failures" - their failures were those men named above.  Their failures were not because these men were perfect, but because these men knew how to fight the enemy - through the power of prayer.

Here is an excerpt from the book that I loved in regards to the demons "failures"...
"The real reason is because of the way prayer moves the Christians. They end up more deeply knowing our Enemy [God], the Enemy! The more these Christians that pray know scripture, the better they know the Enemy, and the more faith they pray with. Oh, it’s just a disaster.” 

I also appreciated the amount of Scripture he put in his footnotes.  Many times I went to them just to learn more about what the Bible has to say about demons and angels, and prayer.

I am not a big fan of fiction books, but I found this one interesting.  It's honestly the first fiction book that I have read in years.  When I read the info on the book that is was about demons and angels, I was quite hesitant, but I felt it was well written and worth the read.  I firmly believe in demons and angels, and even more so, the POWER OF PRAYER!  Friends, we are in a spiritual battle, and prayer is our main weapon.  So why don't we use it more?!

I would probably recommend this for older teenagers and older.  I'm not sure my 13 year old would quite understand everything.  Maybe this is my excuse to not have these deep discussions quite yet.  Although because of our ministry, she is very aware of them.

I was given a ePub copy of the book to the review.  This is Book 1, and it kinds of ends on a cliff-hanger, so I'm looking forward to reading Book 2.

Social Media Links:
Twitter: @ThePrayersNovel

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

For more reviews of the book click below...
The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Day at the Beach

My favourite place on earth...

Here are some of the treasures we found a few weeks ago... 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wordless Book

I am still teaching Religious Instruction (or Education, whichever you prefer) in Barunga.  It's been a blessing teaching all these kids.  I teach every grade once a week (roughly 60 kids in total/4 classes).  Today I taught on the Worldless Book, and then they each made their own so they could go and share the good News with others.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Homeschool Room - Nearly there!

We are in our 10th year of homeschool.  I have always wanted a homeschool room, but we've never had a home where we had an extra room to make into a school room.  Even in the house we are now living, we have three bedrooms and I didn't think it was possible to have a homeschool room here.

We live in an elevated home, and our downstairs area is part open and part (kind of) closed in.  My husband had the idea of closing in the downstairs to make an extra room for his study/music room/man cave.  As that room was being finished off, we realised we could also do the same to the other half...and now we are close to having a homeschool room!


In the middle.

As you can tell, we knocked out the back wall, and put up a wall with sliding glass doors.  I'm hoping down the road to get a picnic table for right outside.  I'm told the room should be finished in the next two weeks or so. We need to put up a door for the bathroom and a door to the room itself, then the floor needs tiled, and then we paint!  We're so close!

Oh, and we are also putting in an extra bathroom!!  Then these two rooms can also be for guests...hint, hint!