Co-op Open House in Oak Park

Received this helpful information via email:
Our Community Coop is having an open house on Friday, 4/26.

The Community Co-op is a family-oriented resource for homeschool families
located in Oak Park, Illinois, serving Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. We
are a non-profit organization officially founded as the “Community Organization
for Near West Homeschoolers”, but affectionately known as the “The Community
Co-op” or “Co-op” for short. Our group offers homeschool enrichment activities
for homeschooling families once a week, for a day of friends, fun and learning.
Our mission is to create an environment for educational enrichment where
homeschooling families can work co-operatively in an atmosphere of mutual
respect and interest-driven exploration, while maintaining our personal learning
styles and sharing them with the group at large.

Visit our website at:

Coop Open House
Friday, 4/26 from 6:30-8pm
Parkview Presbyterian Church
641 S Oak Park Ave
Oak Park Il

Homeschool workshop in Oak Lawn

Sponsored by: Christian Home Educators of SW Chicago

Where: Trinity Lutheran Church
9701 Brandt Avenue
Oak Lawn, IL

When: Sat., Aug. 4, 2012, 10:30 am – Noon

In this free informational workshop we will discuss
the many aspects of homeschooling:

  • Why homeschool?
  • Illinois Homeschooling law
  • Learning styles
  • Teaching methods
  • Questions and Answers with veteran homeschooling parents and teens

Please RSVP by July 31st to Patty at 815-534-0913
to reserve your spot and workshop packet.

Light refreshments will be served.

TOS Crew Review — Reading Kingdom


Let me introduce you to a new friend of ours. My son named him Nate. This friendly owl is helping teach my kids to read and write, and doing a pretty good job of it, I might add.

Through Reading Kingdom, my 5, 7, and 9 year olds are interacting with letters and sounds in a brand new way. This program tackles more than just learning to read. It identifies six skills required for successful reading. The six skills are: sequencing, motor skills, sounds, meaning, grammar and comprehension. So, it doesn’t start with sounds, it starts with learning sequences. Kids also learn to type in the process since it is a computer based program and they must be able to type to interact with it.

After some time in the introductory levels, my son made it out of Letter Land. He was thrilled when he made it to the soccer field today:

Reading Kingdom focuses on whole word recognition and alternating between clicking correct words and then typing them out to reinforce the word. This is a great integration of learning styles and keeps the kids as active participants in the learning process. Great for active learners and for kids who might also struggle with reversals. The word-focus is clear and builds one step at a time.

Product: Reading Kingdom

Details: An online program that helps 4-10 year olds learn to read through a third grade level.

Price: $19.99 per month or $199.99 for a year. Additional children are $9.99 each per month

What we loved . . .

  • Game based, but solidly educational. While Reading Kingdom involves games and game type graphics, it is all about learning the skills needed to read. Children interact with helpful cartoon characters to begin building their reading vocabulary.
  • Rechecks learning. The program naturally includes quite a bit of review and retesting. This helps them to confirm mastery of the topics and skills. It is brief, so I did not find it boring to my kids, but it did make sure that they were ready to move on.
  • Teaches the little words. One of the foundational principles for Reading Kingdom is that much of our language is made up of those little words that hold the sentences together, but early readers often miss. So, they focus on them and drill them, and repeat them, and make sure that the kids notice them, read them, and understand them. I think this is a great component of the program.
  • Short sessions. Because reading does involve some tedious exercises, they break it down into very small lessons. If the kids are having fun and want to continue they can easily do more. But, they are not pressed to continue for 45 minutes or more on repetitive lessons that are helpful, but sometimes not very exciting. My son would do one lesson in a sitting, my daughter would sit for three or four. It was nice to have that flexibility and not feel like they were leaving in the middle of something.
  • Excellent program for kids that rush or struggle with letter order. My 9 year old has a tendency to rush. Although she can read, she likes to skip things, filling in the mental gaps as she goes. This program won’t allow that. She has to click what they tell her to. She has to type the letters they ask for. She has to spend the time to slowly make the progress and show what she knows. In order to do well she needs to make sure that she gets letters in the right order and at the right time to move on successfully.

Some considerations . . .

  • Program can be touchy at times. This is my biggest beef with a program that we really liked overall. My 7 year old daughter was getting really frustrated and bored stuck in the training part of the program (Letter Land and Sequences) and she is already a good beginner reader, so I figure I would help her out. **Ahem** I know, I should let them learn and not step in, but I knew she knew this stuff, she just kept making little mistakes in the way she entered the letters. So, I stepped in to save the day. Well, after a few minutes, I realized she was better off without me. ­čśë On one screen I would type too fast and it would not register my typing. Another page I would try typing instead of clicking the letters and would get it wrong. I was taking her backwards instead of forwards. After a session of failure I did start to have it figured out and began to improve. A few more sessions and I got her out of Letter Land. She is now much more happily and successfully living in the land of Reading and Writing Level 1. And, we both learned a bit in the process.
  • Sometimes I didn’t know where they were going. They have some interesting exercises. They show a sequence of letters and then kids need to pick it out of a longer sequence of letters. They teach apostrophes and quotation marks.┬á And, while I’m sure they have a purpose, sometimes they just seemed cumbersome to the kids. I understand why the sequences are important, but they just seem to need an awful lot of repetition to get their point across.
  • NOT phonics based. In fact, the author is quite clearly against phonics instruction. She makes some claims that I disagree with regarding phonics, but I guess she is entitled to her professional opinion. I can see the benefit to combing whole language and phonics, but I have worked with too many kids to discredit phonics based programs entirely. I do agree that there are bad phonics programs out there, and many of her criticisms would hold true in those, but there are also great phonics programs that her criticism would not hold up against. To hear all of the differences between this and other reading programs, check out this document.
  • Would be nice if it repeated words at times. This is just a personal preference I suppose. But, there were times when my child would be celebrating a right answer and miss the instructions for the next screen, or would not hear the word they were supposed to type. There was no way to go back and hear it again and so they were left to guess what they were supposed to do.

This was an interesting program, definitely different than other reading program that we have used in the past. Some things we loved, some things that left me sour. You can see for yourself if this program is a great fit for your kids with their free trial. It would definitely be worth giving it a try, and if you have a struggling reader in your home, this could be the key that unlocks the world of reading for them. I would definitely encourage a melding of this with a phonics program, but it can give kids a confidence boost to get them on their way.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Reading Kingdom as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

TOS Crew review — All About Spelling

“Yeah, spelling!”

Not words you hear too often. Not words I recall hearing in our house until we started using All About Spelling after receiving it through the TOS Crew to review.

The perfect spelling curriculum for a variety of learning styles, from the beginner through middle school, students needing remedial spelling help (or phonics review — this was great for my third grade daughter), or parents seeking a solid curriculum geared specifically toward the homeschool environment.


Product: All About Spelling
Details: A multi-sensory, logical, gap-free, mastery based, review-filled, and easy to use spelling curriculum for preschool through middle school.
Price: $26.95 for the starter kit (used throughout all levels); $29.95 for Level 1; $39.95 for each level 2-5 (level 6 coming in the near future)


What we loved . . .

  • This curriculum is clearly designed with the homeschooler in mind. Not some rewrite of a classroom program. Scripted lessons geared toward a one-on-one interaction with your child.
  • Very hands on. Lots to look at and touch to keep the learning interesting and keep the student engaged.
  • It works! My third grader has had a few glitches in her reading. We’d resolved most of the issues, but I hadn’t been able to nail down one or two last areas that she was missing because she has a tendency to read whole words (despite her phonics upbringing) ­čÖé This program has helped her slow down and helped us both identify and solve these remaining problem areas, already making a huge difference. I know it’s not plugged as a reading program, but it ended up working that way for us.
  • Based on ability not grade level. We know that kids don’t often fit the mold they “should.” All About Spelling presents spelling in a progressive format, but not restricting it to grade level classification. While Level 1 had lots of easy material for my third grader, it ended up being a great place to start her off to make sure that we didn’t miss anything.
  • Easy to use. A quick glance through the lesson and all the materials on hand and we can quickly jump right into the lesson.
  • Comes with just about everything that you need. With the starter pack and Level 1 (and we also received Level 2 which we have just begun to work with) you have everything you need. Letter tiles, magnets, CD, Phonogram cards, sound cards, key cards (with rules to learn along the way), and the spelling word cards. You do also need a magnet board, a file box for the cards, and possibly a dry erase board or chalkboard for spelling practice.

But, the downside . . .

  • Yes, this is a little expensive for “just” a spelling curriculum. However, most of the material can easily be used for later children with little or no additional purchase depending on your methods and preferences. And, I really felt like it reached into far more than just spelling. If I did not know how much we would love this product the price would turn me off, but in my opinion, it is definitely worth it.
  • It does take a little time to set up at first. Cards need to be torn along perforated lines (LOTS of cards), letter tiles need to be cut apart, and magnets affixed to the backs of them. With some extra hands this isn’t a huge project, but it does take some prep before the first lesson.
  • Others have done it, but I had a hard time working through two students in the same level at the same time. Trying to keep their cards straight did not work well for me. I kept forgetting and putting them back in the wrong divider, or reviewing the wrong set with each child. So, since my younger daughter is just in kindergarten, and my third grader is moving pretty quickly, I am just waiting until she is done with level one at least to begin my younger daughter.

We really love All About Spelling. I am pleased with the quality of the product, the ease of use, and the excellent academic standard. If you think it might be for you, I would encourage you to visit their website. They have a free download with 20 spelling tips that everyone can take advantage of on their home page. You can also view their FAQ page and their advice on what level to order for your child(ren).

I definitely highly recommend this product.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This spelling curriculum was provided to me free of charge from All About Spelling as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.