Teaching Writing with the Institute for Excellence in Writing

I was given this product in exchange for a review. All of my opinions are mine and have been in no way affected by my compensation

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As a writer, it is kind of ironic that I haven’t done much formal writing in our homeschool. We have always followed somewhat of a Charlotte Mason approach to language arts. We have read lots of good books (many living books) and created a love for reading first. Yet, when my daughter was in third grade she was not a great speller, reader, or writer, and I was somewhat discouraged. However, the key to this for her was maturity. Within the next few years her love of reading finally took a foothold, and quite naturally her spelling and writing skills followed.

All of that exposure to good writing finally paid off, without much formal language arts. In fact, in sixth grade she wrote her first short story- a 40 page book! She developed it all on her own, and not part of “school” or an “assignment.” Her story was excellent and her skills were surely there, and I believe she learned naturally through reading good books.

Presently, however, at the eight grade level, I felt it was time for a more formal writing program to give her a proper technique and further develop her skills. I had been very careful all along to not use something that would squelch her love for writing. I began searching out some different classes and programs, and then I was approached to review Institute for Excellence in Writing- I was thrilled! What a divine appointment! :)


We began using IEW this school year and I truly, truly can not say enough about how much we both love it. I look forward to watching the lessons with my daughter each day. Andrew Pudewa is engaging, humorous, and truly knowledgeable on the subject. I have marveled at watching my daughter diligently taking notes during the lessons and really engrossed in the videos.

I admit when I first rceieved the materials, I was a bit overwhelmed at where to start. There was a teacher’s binder, DVD’s, and student binder. However, I took some time to watch the DVD’s and to understand Mr. Pudewa’s approach. I really liked what I saw! I quickly became less overwhelmed.

IMG_3149Once we started the program together, everything made even more sense. I understood how the program worked much better. I am convinced that God knew exactly what we needed and when we need it. I am so grateful to IEW for this amazing opportunity..

I would highly recommend IEW for teaching writing. We are using Level B for 8th grade, and it is a perfect fit for us. We watch the lessons together and my daughter enjoys the exercises within each lesson. The lessons are so engaging and the time flies by. Sometimes we just snuggle up on my bed while watching (and having lots of laughs) and learning. My daughter is loving the exercises throughout the DVD lessons. She is learning how to be a better writer through Mr. Pudewa’s humor and engaging exercises. 


 One of the  benefits of IEW is having my daughter learn from Mr. Pudewa, and not me. She is at the point where I know it is beneficial to have another “teacher” besides me. She was ready for that change this year. As she is getting older, it really helps to bring in the another teacher in certain areas. However, I enjoy that we are watching the lessons together, so we can still discuss it and go over concepts, without me being the one that is doing all of the teaching.

She is enjoying learning how to “dress up” her writing, and how to exclude “banned” words to keep things interesting! I am looking forward to the rest of this program and watching my daughter’s love for writing only grow. Thank you to Institute for Excellence in Writing for providing a truly excellent program that both student and teacher enjoy!


If you would like to know more about Institute for Excellence in Writing, please visit their website:

Institute for Excellence in Writing








Homeschool Digital Foreign Language Courses

Learning with Online Digital Foreign Language Courses

Online Foreign Language Course

I was given this product  for free, in return for an honest review. My opinion is complete and honest and in no way affected by my compensation.

Middlebury Interactive: Homeschool Digital Foreign Language Courses for K-12.

Last spring as we wrapped up our school year and gazed a little bit into the next year, my daughter mentioned that she would really like to try French. As do many middle school girls her age, she has a fascination with all things Paris, and her room reflects that, with posters, decor, etc. of Eiffel Towers, and all things French.

Just about the time we were looking into French courses, I was given the opportunity to review Middlebury Interactive Foreign Language Courses. Voila! We were so excited! This would be fun and a great educational experience.

A digital foreign language program that is fun and educational at the same time.

“Come talle vou?” I hear coming from my daughter’s room. I peek in and she is fully engaged with the program, speaking the language, and interacting. She isn’t looking a list of French words trying to memorize them, she is immersed in the language. She listens to phrases and has to figure them out, and she is speaking back into the computer. She records herself to compare her pronunciation with the teacher.


I love that Middlebury Interactive is immersion. It is such a natural way to learn a foreign language. We have used other foreign language programs in the past, but this is the first time using something for French. We had always done Spanish, which I already knew somewhat from my high school experience. I did take French way back in middle school, but have no recollection of it, so this program really would need to teach her, since I am not much of a help 😉  I like that Middlebury Interactive allows me, as the parent to be the parent, while the program does the teaching.

This morning however, I noticed my daughter was not as happy with her French lessons as she was when she started. I came down and tried to figure out what the problem was.  She was frustrated with the program and how to use it. After helping her figure out some of the features in Middlebury, her smiles were back. It wasn’t really a problem with the program itself, more of her needing to get used to the way it worked. You see, there are awesome features like a calendar to keep track of her lessons, an easy to use table of contents, and more. She just had a little trouble finding it all. However, later in the day, she came down the stairs excitedly as she blurted out,

“Quoi de neuf!?” (What’s Up?)

Yes, that is the excitement I love to see in learning!

Then…this happened! We were watching I Love Lucy as a family, and it was the episode where they are in Paris. Every time one of the characters would speak French, my daughter would beam with excitement and translate for us! She was so excited to be able to understand! Thanks to Middlebury Interactive for not only teaching my daughter French, but for an enjoyable experience!

You can follow Middlebury Interactive on various social media here:

Middlebury will also be featured in a Twitter party on Oct. 9, 2014. Join them for this fun event!

Click here to join: Twitter Party

Middlebury will also be the featured guest in the weekly iHomeschool Hangout on Oct. 16 when they willl talk about teaching foreign language for homeschool! Visit them on Google +


Enter to WIN from Middlebury Interactive and SAVE 10%

Now YOU can  save 10%! Use the Code HomeSchoolFirst10 on your initial order. 
You can also enter to win a semester course of the language and level you choose!  (This excludes AP courses and is applicable to courses as independent study without the support of a teacher.) The value is $119 per semester.
Please note your email will be given to Middlebury and added to their mailing list.

FREEBIES for YOU and Win a $50 Gift Certificate from Institute for Excellence in Writing!

I am thrilled to partner up with Institute for Excellence in Writing to offer you FOUR FREEBIES AND also one of my readers will win a $50 Gift Certificate!

I will be using this program starting in the fall and will post a FULL review once we are started, but right now you can enter to win a $50 Gift Certificate from Institute for Excellence in Writing! What an amazing prize!

IEW also has FOUR freebies for you!

• Reaching the Reluctant Writer
• Nurturing Competent Communicators
• Four Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing
• IEW Recommended Reading List

Head over now to get your freebies and enter to win!!

Click below:








Genesis Copywork

Looking for Bible based copywork?


Classical Copywork has this Genesis copywork available!

Each of these copywork pages is a verse from a chapter in the book of Genesis (ESV Bible). There is one verse for each chapter, a total of 50 pages of copywork. This copywork is designed for a beginning writer. The lines are about 5/8th inch tall with a mid-line to help your child position their letters correctly.

These pages would work perfectly as an accompaniment to your ancient history studies. They would also be great to take to church if you will be hearing preaching from the book of Genesis. Children who are not old enough to take their own notes can copy a verse from the chapter they are hearing about. Lastly, they would also be great just as handwriting practice for any child who needs it!

sample page 2 Genesis Beginner Cursive Copywork - sample page






Understanding Copywork eBook from Classical Copywork

We enjoy copywork very much in our homeschool. Have you checked out Classical Copywork? There are lots of very budget friendly resources that are Bible based.

Right now you can get the eBook, Understanding Copywork for just $2 PLUS 25% off your total order. It will help you understand more about copywork and why it can be effective.

Classical Copywork VIsit for more info!

Understanding Copywork cover







A New and Exciting Way to Learn A Foreign Language in Your Homeschool!

We were given the opportunity to take lessons with italki for the purpose of review. These lessons were free for us in return for an honest review of the product. I was also compensated for my time. This in no way affected my opinion. In fact, after our free lessons, we may be purchasing more! Read my full disclosure here.


Learning a foregin language? I am excited to tell you about a new option available to homeschoolers!

What is italki?

When I first heard of italki I will admit, I was a bit skeptical for the purposes in our homeschool. I even almost backed out of doing this post, because I wasn’t sure. Boy, am I glad that we stuck with it. We had an amazing experience with italki and my daughter is begging for more! italki is definitely a safe place for online homeschool language lessons!

italki is a an online community where you can learn a language from an online language teacher, or practice a language with native speakers from that country. All lessons are done via Skype with a professional teacher of your choosing. There are many teachers and languages to choose from. You can also choose to have a an online language tutor. 

We chose Spanish, because we are currently using Rosetta Stone to study Spanish Level 1 in our homeschool.  After signing up, we were sent a list of recommended teachers for our needs. We contacted the teacher and scheduled our first lesson. It was incredibly easy to get started and to find a teacher.

Our experience with our online language teacher

My daughter (12) and son (10) were present for the first lesson. I sat with them and told the teacher our needs. Cynthia, our teacher asked what our previous experience was and what we wanted out of these lessons. My children are still learning basic Spanish, so she went over the basics with them.

What struck me most was how interactive it was. Since Cynthia knew she was working with children, she tailored it so nicely for them. She said she didn’t want them to be bored! So she had us get a ball and the children would toss it back and forth while reciting the numbers, days of week, etc. I thought that was wonderful!

What I also loved about Cynthia was how she really catered to both children’s needs. My son is extremely shy and felt uncomfortable talking through the computer to her, so she told him to write down his answers when she asked him a question, and then my daughter read them to her. I thought that was so creative of her- this way they could both participate!

My daughter isn’t shy at all, and in fact preferred this method to Rosetta Stone. She loved that she had feedback immediately from the teacher, especially with help in pronunciation. She really enjoyed the first lesson.

For our next lesson, I just had my daughter participate. Once again, Cynthia was so dynamic. She had my daughter write various verbs down on cards and as she spoke the verbs, my daughter was to walk over to each card on the table and actually act out the verb. For example, for “run” she would go over and run in place. Things got really fun when Cynthia added in descriptive words such as “run quickly” or “slowly.” My daughter loved this game.

Again, having the immediate feedback form Cynthia was what my daughter loved most. Rather than talking into the computer with Rosetta Stone,  she was conversing with a real, live person. I enjoyed the fact that Cynthia was so dynamic, gentle, and attentive.

I loved the fact that the lessons were very timely as well. We signed onto Skype a few minutes before our scheduled lesson, and at the exact moment it was supposed to begin, Cynthia would sign on to start. We would also end precisely at the end time.

I was also impressed that she was able to interact by sending over some worksheets to help, so that could be up on the screen to help as they were interacting. She gave my daughter various exercises to conjugate verbs, and they also worked on pronunciation. I was pleased when Cynthia asked about my son. I told her he wasn’t going to participate, but she said she wanted to make sure I knew she didn’t forget about him. 🙂 She was really a great teacher for kids!

Is italki suitable for homeschoolers? 

Yes! italki is definitely a viable option of learning a foreign language. It also can be extremely helpful to use for tutoring. If you are already using a program you love, itlaki can help by supplementing. Giving you a real live person to practice with, converse with, and ask questions to is definitely helpful. I can see using this as tutoring along with your current language program or you can purchase professional lessons from a teacher.

What languages does italki offer to homeschoolers?

There are many languages available- some of which are:

  • Spanish

  • Portugese

  • French

  • Arabic

  • Hebrew

  • Japanese

  • Chinese

  • Italian

Learn more about italki by visit their homeschool page. 

And now… an exciting offer for my readers!

italki is also generously offering my readers a special discount!

When you  register and make a purchase, you will also receive an additional $10 USD worth of language credits. The credits can be used to take lessons with any teacher on italki.

The offer will only last to 15 September 2013, and is only available to new italki users.  

 How you can redeem the special offer:

1. Register on italki

2. Make a purchase on italki

3. Go to special offer link — [http://go.italki.com/1bOUXHJ]

4. The italki team will deposit $10 USD credits


Skills for Rhetoric on Sale from New Leaf Publishing


Skills for Rhetoric is on sale for $5.99 (reg. $9.99) from New Leaf Publishing

Rhetoric is the ancient skill of persuasive speech used by teachers, preachers, politicians, and others to influence, incite, and instruct. This course includes basic grammar and writing composition, and mastering this time-honored skill will set your students apart with distinguished written and oral abilities.


Writing Assignments in a Bible Based Homeschool


The Bible is a book of literature. In Ruth Beechick’s, A Biblical Home Education, she writes that it is unique in that you can’t categorize it as a certain genre. There are narratives, poetry, and metaphors. It is a supreme resource for teaching literature. As I wrote previously, we do a writing assignment each day. I have a different type of writing  assignment for each day of the week.

  • Monday- Creative writing from a prompt I give them
  • Tuesday-(we are at a fine arts program and don’t usually do one, but if we do it is a “free” topic)
  • Wednesday- Letter writing
  • Thursday- Poetry
  • Friday- Free topic or report


Examples of writing assignments we have done with Genesis so far this year: Creation week:

  • Imagine you are in the garden of Eden. Describe what life is like? (all ages)
  • How would you explain to an atheist your belief that God created the earth in six literal days? (6th grader)
  • Write a poem about how you feel about being created special and unique by God. (2nd grader)
  • Report on an animal of your choice, highlighting the special characteristics that are unique showing how God created it. Include classification of the animal. (all ages)
  • Illustrate the six days of creation with a description of each day (all ages)
  • Write a poem praising God for His Creation

The Flood:

  • Imagine you are on the ark. Describe the conditions. (all ages)
  • Write a one-page essay on the evidence for a global flood (6th grader)
  • Describe what the Ark looked like (size, materials, etc.) (all ages)
  • Write a newspaper article about the occurrence of a worldwide flood! (4th and 6th grader)
  • Write a report about dinosaurs or fossils and their proof of a worldwide flood (4th and 6th grader)

Creation Vs. Evolution

  • Write an essay telling why creation is what you believe. Dispute evolution. (6th grader)
  • Write about an animal that defies evolution (all ages)


  • Describe what it looks like when you arrive in Egypt
  • Write a poem about the land of Egypt
  • Research ancient Egypt and report to the family about something that interests you from that time period
  • Write a play about Joseph and his brothers
  • Write a newspaper article regarding the loss of Joseph to his family
  • Write a story from Joseph’s perspective of what life was like after his brothers sold him
  • Write about a dream you once had. How might you interpret it?

No matter what passages in the Bible you are studying, there are ways to assign writing based on them, whether it be creative writing, poetry, narrative, or informational. Be creative, and get them writing!  Writing assignments based on our Bible passages have been not only fun, but a great way to put our skills to practical use. My daughter, who is an aspiring writer, came up with a really great idea this week for a series of kids books, based on what we have learned. I am encouraging her to write, write, write. She has been inspired by the materials, and now I will help her pursue it. I just love when learning becomes a passion!

Read More about how we use the Bible for: