Spanish for You! Review

Buenos Dias, y bienvenido a la pagina para critica de Spanish For You!  I recently received a sample for review, and thought I would share my opiniones con usted!
With the Spanish for You! program, elementary and middle grade students can learn the beautiful Spanish language by themes.  No boring verb tense drills, here – just lots of relevant words to a main topic (you know, kind of like real life…)
I received the ESTACIONES (Seasons) book.  There are also currently theme books for VIAJES (Travels) and FIESTAS (Celebrations), with more to come.  The books start at $9.99, with an expected learning time of 4-6 weeks.  Class packs are also available, as well as teacher guides, for an additional cost.
The ESTACIONES book starts with some basics… the alphabet, common words, phrases, and commands, and then moves into the units.  Each one established around a topic.  There is “Calendar and Weather”, each of the four seasons, and school terms.  You can see a complete table of contents and some sample pages HERE.
Learning a foreign language is like studying a musical instrument.  It’s best to take it in small bites.  That’s why Spanish for You! recommends studying just 10-30 minutes a day.  In a school schedule, this is more likely to be 3-4 times per week.
When I first received the book, I thought it was kind of on the slim side, but the interior is packed with great information!  It’s easy to see how just one unit can take more than a month to complete!  There are lots of practices, paired with pictures.  (And if the pictures seem reminiscent of child drawings, that’s because they are!  The author’s daughter illustrates her books!)
Each lesson introduces vocabulary words with their accompanying pictures, before moving on to simple sentences.  The audio files are a big help for those without Spanish training or experience, or for letting the student listen to on their own.  I was also thrilled that I could use the same program for both children, eliminating re-teaching and repetition.
Perhaps my favorite (and most fun!) were the Games and Activities listed.  These simple games made learning the vocabulary words easier and more memorable, while letting the kid think they were having “fun time” without the books!  Language-learning versions of “Memory”, “Bingo”, dice games, and “Simon Dice” (Simon Says) had everyone smiling in no time.

Just a few of the highlights of Spanish For You!:

  • Self-study, family, or class use
  • Affordable – $9.99 for electronic download, $12.99 for print book
  • Flexible – Go at your own pace.
  • Easy to use – Just follow the lesson guide & go!
  • Time Saving– Use one package with students of multiple grades at the same time.
  • Fun – Uses simple games and activities to engage students.
  • Your Choice: soft cover book or e-book (currently only our trial pkgs.)
  • Lesson Guide: 24-30 week lesson guide for the grades you need (24 weeks for G5-6 & 7-8, 30 weeks for G3-4) (PDF download)

    • *Teacher lesson plans are NOT included. These need to be purchased separately.
  • Worksheets – self-checking worksheets (PDF download)
  • Audio files of entire book (includes bonus audio of native speaker of entire book) (MP3 download)
  • Flashcard/activity pictures (PDF download)

You can read more experiences right HERE,at, and in the words of Reading Rainbow’s Levar Burton, “Don’t just take my word for it!”  Read these other great reviews by parent educators like me!


A Journey Through Learning Review

  If you’ve visited my site for any length of time, you know I LOVE lapbooks.  (I even went on TV at Life Plus Homeschooling to talk about it!)These fun, interactive, educational (and test-free!) units incorporate all the best learning methods while providing a portfolio assessment that can be kept for years as a treasured memory of learning days.

I was pleased with the quality of the products from A Journey Through Learning.  Having written more than a few lapbook units myself, I know just what I want in a program!  The unit I received – The Earth – far exceeded my expectations.  The product description says:

Learn about the Earth, what the Earth is made of, the Earth’s crust, sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks, the Earth’s 4 spheres-lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere, how the Earth moves-the days and the seasons, parts of the Earth, landforms-continents, mountains, valleys, and plains, how mountains are formed, the atmosphere, the water cycle, ocean zones- photic, abyssal, disphotic, hadal, the ocean floor- continental margin, continental shelf, abyssal plain, ocean trenches, and volcanoes.

The unit contains 42 pages, and only requires 2 manila file folders, scissors, glue, and coloring utensils of your choice.

There are also units covering the themes of “Spring”, “Knights”, and “Early Learning”, as well as Express Books for just $1 and a monthly $5 Lapbook!

The units can be purchased as downloads, which is a real benefit for educators of multiple students, or if you’d like to reuse the unit at a later time.  They can also be purchased in print for a few dollars more.  Ideal for grades 1-4, students can typically complete a unit in just one month (working on 1 page per day on the activities).  The instructions are super-easy to follow, and activities are dedicated on their own pages, so no cutting into your reading text!

In a few short weeks, you can go from study guide to interactive personalized book!

If you aren’t familiar with lapbooks, just think of a collection of mini-books.  Each one is dedicated to a different topic or learning objective.  The student focuses on one of these per lesson, then compiles them into a “book” made from a file folder.  Presto!  All the lessons are demonstrated in a compact, colorful arrangement that students can’t wait to share with family and friends.  There are also lots of tips and tricks through the website’s video lessons, and I have a previous blog post about it HERE.

My kids both love lapbooking, and were pleased to add this one to their collection.  A Journey Through Learning takes the work out of designing these lessons, and just lets you get straight to the fun!

Just a few of the highlights of lapbook units from A Journey Through Learning:

  • Thematic, integrated units of study
  • Color illustrations
  • Easy-to-Follow directions
  • Excellent informational text to accompany each activity
  • Additional suggestions for Poems, Songs, Activities, and Supplemental Reading
  • Two purchasing options (Downloadable = $13.00, Printed Booklet = $21.00)

You can read more experiences right HERE, at, and in the words of Reading Rainbow’s Levar Burton, “Don’t just take my word for it!”  Read these other great reviews by parent educators like me!


Educators Bring Great Literature Home


It’s no secret that education is dear to my heart.

After years of public school teaching and librarian work, moving to the home education field just made sense.  After all, where else could a gal that goes giddy over learning styles and curriculum guides satisfy her insatiable need for knowledge?

1895 HoughtonMifflin HolidayBooks Armstrong

For many years, I have attended homeschool conferences – from Kansas to Florida – but the annual trek to Springfield, Missouri remains a favorite.  Hosted by SHEM, an area organization dedicated to assisting home educating families, the event has steadily outgrown its locations until it now resides at the spacious Springfield Expo Center.

What does a homeschool convention look like?  First to note is the extraordinary friendliness and hospitality of the staff and volunteers.  There’s no shortage of easily-identified members to help with registration, scheduling, and finding your way around.  For exhibitors, entire squads of eager young people are on hand to help load boxes, set up booth areas, and even bring a cup of coffee or ice water throughout the long shopping days.

Authors, teachers, and field specialists are booked from all over the country to speak to attendees on topics ranging from this year’s Native Landscaping for Learning (Jay Barber, Conservation specialist) to Uh-Oh, The Fractions Are Moving In (Tom Clark, Indiana Department of Education, and Houghton-Mifflin).

I was privileged to speak on Friday about Literature-Based Learning, focusing on the unique benefits (and just plain fun) of teaching with good quality books and integrated theme units.  Visitors lined up at the booth afterwards to get the new titles available from GoldMinds – for a special show price, of course!


Click on the Microphone to listen to an excerpt from “Literature-Based Learning”, recorded at a recent educator’s conference…

A microphone

Although I have attended this particular show for many years – both as a homeschooling parent and as an exhibitor – I have to admit that this year’s event was the most streamlined and enjoyable.  Everywhere there was a buzz of excitement as parents and teachers discovered new ways to tap into their child’s learning potential, address the special needs of students, and embrace a whole-child approach to education.

The dates have already been set for next year’s conference (April 25-27, 2013), and my pre-registration form is ready to go!  See you there!