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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

All About Homophones E-book by Marie Rippel

Homeschoolers tend to collect books and educational aids that take up so much space. I have all subjects for every grade from 8th down to pre-k in my home because I cannot toss the items as I might need them as my children move up. That is one reason why I am so glad to see E-books really becoming available for homeschoolers to use. They are so easy to use. You simply download the files onto your computer where they can be stored, or you can store them on a CD, a flash drive, or use free online file storage sites. Then you retrieve the files to print and use as needed. No wasted shelf space; no wasted paper. Good for the environment and mom's sanity.

Today I will be reviewing a new E-book I received called All About Homophones, by Marie Rippel. All About Homophones is also available in regular printed book form. The cost for the paperback book edition is $29.95 and it's 250 pages long. Your cost for the e-book that I am reviewing will be $27.95. Its also convenient to buy e-books because you get immediate delivery of the ADOBE PDF file in your inbox...no waiting on the mailman to deliver your book! Just open your mail attachment, download it, and begin to study.

I really like this e-book and feel that the amount of information contained in it would make it very well worth the download. What you get are easy and fun worksheets, graphic organizers, word lists, games to print, and activities to teach homophones all the way from grade 1 through grade 8. Very economical. I think most of us homeschool moms enjoy a good bargain. I know I really appreciate items that can be used for all of my children for one low cost.

Ms. Rippel begins by teaching the parent what homophones are and then offers many suggestions on how to use the worksheets and other items she's created. She also tosses in more ideas to reinforce the child's learning such as teaching homophones with books, tongue twisters, puns, and more.

I would personally not use only the recommended grade level worksheets of this book for my children; instead I would go back to the 1st grade level and let them each work their way forward to their correct grade level, just to be sure they hadn't missed any homophones along the way. Then I'd add in the crosswords, puzzles, and games as needed for reinforcement.

An idea to save paper using this e-book might be to place each worksheet you print into a clear sleeve and do the work with a wipe-off marker. Then you can reuse the pages for each child. Unless you live in a place where you feel the need to save lots of completed sheets for record-keeping and proof of work.

I really like her use of card games as well. She explains in clear instruction how to play 6 different games using the printable cards she has included. Kids will love practicing their homophones using games like Pig, Snap!, Go Fish and more. The illustrations on the cards have an old-fashioned appeal and printing the cards on colored card stock would add to that appeal and make them durable. As I always go for making things last long enough to meet the needs of three kids, I would laminate them as well.

The worksheets have neat little trivia and facts at the bottom. I actually enjoyed reading them myself. I tell the kids they can't read the trivia until the sheet is complete and then cover it up.

I really do like this book. I can't see how any child could do the work in it and not become a "homophone expert". But I am not sure how many parents would buy a separate book for teaching homophones as most spelling or language programs cover them at some point. I know my curriculum already has a section on homophones built right into it. I would feel that unless a child just couldn't grasp the concept clearly using our current curriculum, that I might not need to purchase an additional curriculum for this one subject area.

However, if I were an English or language arts teacher or simply felt we needed more practice in this area, this book would be perfect for us.

Ms. Rippel is obviously very knowledgeable on the subject and using this book will certainly help your student.

Please take the time to read what other TOS crew members are saying, and then visit http://all-about-homophones.com/order.html to learn more.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Kinderbach Piano Lessons review

Teach a 4-year old to sit still and learn to play piano and LIKE IT?? It can be done, and done eagerly, with Karri Gregor's delightful KinderBach music lessons.

I was very glad to get this product to review. I had been considering it for quite some time as I always wanted to expose my children to music. My only complaint is that I have to use a dial-up connection to access this site, which slows it down considerably since the lessons have downloadable videos, games, songs, and print-outs. But KinderBach is also available on DVD, which I intend to obtain very soon. :) I was able to allow my daughter and also my then 8-year old son to test the first 3 weeks worth of lessons. Both my children stayed focused and enjoyed their "music time". I heard my daughter pick up on the songs and little phrases from the lessons quickly. When presented with a coloring sheet from the site featuring Dodi the Donkey, with no prompting at all, Ash was able to tell me where on the piano keyboard Dodi "lives".

Karri is a perky, enthusiastic music teacher who has a way of capturing preschooler's attention. She founded KinderBach after wishing a piano teacher would take her preschool children in for lessons, but she was always told they were "too young". Karri's previous experience owning a studio with 150 students and video-taping her lessons for absentee students had given her the knowledge she needed to form KinderBach, her online piano instruction site for children ages 2-7.

Now parents can simply go the site at http://www.kinderbach.com/, log in, and present their children with a variety of exceptional lessons on not only piano but music theory, note reading, rhythm, ear training, hand position and much much more! There are also DVD's and activity books to go along with the lessons. Children are taught the notes and staff using characters such as Dodi the Donkey and his pal, Frisco, along with Carla the caterpillar, Edward the eagle, Felicity the frog, and many more. Lessons are fairly brief which is always a plus with preschoolers. With this system children do not have to be able to read to learn to play. And you don't even need a piano! An inexpensive keyboard will work just fine. Parents don't need any musical background to implement this program, which is intended to last one year.

Karri says,"KinderBach was designed to give your child the over all music foundation. Your child can take everything they have learned from KinderBach and apply it to another instrument or continue further with piano. KinderBach was designed to be a spring board, taking this information and just going to endless bounds with what they have learned!
I know KinderBach is a proven method. Over 5000 families have already tried it. We have received nothing but raves when it comes to our curriculum."

There are three options when it comes to using KinderBach to give you the most benefits for your students:

The KinderBach Learning Center offers Online Piano Lessons for young children through web video, printed activity pages, interactive games and unique ‘piano karaoke’ songbook participation. This is what the TOS magazine crew were given access to and I would have really enjoyed this option on a faster internet connection. The content is well worth the price and I don't have to leave home to drive my children to lessons! Yay! The videos are fun and upbeat and keep the little ones moving, dancing, interacting. This is the most economical choice.

Classroom KinderBach is a music program for early childhood education facilities or community centers. The teacher’s materials include teacher aids, lesson plans, teacher’s guide – everything needed to give quality preschool piano lessons to groups of children.

KinderBach at Home offers the same engaging piano lessons as the online videos without the interactive gaming. This DVD course is perfect for slower internet connection. The company suggests you try the online lessons before purchasing the DVD's. (This is the route my family will take to be able to really use the program). You can get the entire Year one bonus package for $217.75, and you'll be able to use it with all your children for years to come, making it more economical than traditional piano lessons.

Families can take advantage of free lessons as well as a guarantee after purchase.

The site also has lots of information on how music corresponds to learning the 3 R's.

So if you intend to use KinderBach at home, check out the value packages available. If you happen to want to teach KinderBach to a group of at least 5 students, or if you work in a daycare or preschool, you may also be able to get special package rates or funding under the Classroom KinderBach program.

I hope you'll visit http://www.kinderbach.com/ and give your early learners a bright musical beginning.