Category Archives: Computer

Learning Microsoft Word: Weeks One, Two and Three



I have been wanting to share my knowledge with homeschoolers for quite some time. Microsoft Office is such an essential skill these days. Please enjoy the following for FREE. If there is enough interest, I’ll continue to post more…

MS Word Week 1

MS Word Week 2

MS Word Week 3

I also have interest in sharing about Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher if there is enough interest.

Enjoy the journey!


Schoolhouse Review ~ Talking Fingers #hsreviews

Talking Fingers Inc. ReviewWe had the opportunity to review Read, Write & Type from Talking Fingers Inc. and let me tell you – P, our son that used this program, VERY RARELY *REALLY* enjoys any kind of schoolwork regardless of if it is a game on the computer or something he has to manually write. But this, THIS, he LOVED. He actually did not want to stop working through it and he even asked if he could use it. This multi-sensory and motor approach stimulates learning and helps children who have different learning styles.


So, let me explain the program a little. Talking Fingers has three different programs for three different grades: Talking Shapes (iPad app for PreK – K), Read, Write & Type (for K-2; which we are reviewing here) and Wordy Qwerty (Grades 2 – 4).

Dr. Jeannine Herron and her colleagues didn’t set out to make Talking Fingers Inc. but found out that there wasn’t a good program available that would teach children a phonic sound associated with a keystroke. And they wanted children to learn the fun that technology can bring to learning. They really have some amazing thoughts about how this program helps children learn. You should read it all HERE.

Once you login and go through the beginning “story” (which you can quickly pass through by hitting the space key) you are taken to this screen. This is the “Home Screen” where they go to each of the different areas of action.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

One of the first places they go is the auditorium where they confirm if the word starts with the proper letter or not. I really love how EVERY.THING is covered in this program! For instance, if they aren’t sure what the picture is, they simply click on it and the program tells them what the word is.


There are very short stories that they listen to and answer questions about that also show the story in action on the right – just another way they “cover all the bases” in this program. My son really loved these stories!


There is “the playground” area where they type what they’ve learned over and over also using the space bar. As they type, the “letter character” (each letter has its own character) moves across the playground. Once it reaches Vexor (the “bad guy” who stole all the letters) they have completed that area.


This is another area they go and they “compete” against Vexor to see who will win. In this particular picture the student is to pick what the appropriate letter is depending on where the picture is located. So if the picture is on the left, they are to pick the first letter of the word. If in the middle, they pick the middle letter and if on the right, they pick the ending letter. I really loved this one! What a fun way for them to learn this part of spelling! (And again, if they don’t know they word of the picture, they just click on it and it tells them what it is.)


In the below screen shot, they type the actual word of the picture.


As they progress through the program – they begin to WRITE the story they see and are told. Nice progression!


They even have an area that covers writing and sending emails! P REALLY enjoyed this! Here is one of the emails he wrote. They learn to put a title / subject, “bad boy” and then write the email and send it.


Another screen shot showing the progression of the program … now working on four letter words with a space between.


Another thing they do within the program: read the sentence and select the correct picture and look at the picture and select the correct sentence.

TF11 TF12

As they complete each area, they get to print off certificates. My son really loved having certificates to print off and show off!

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Many times I was able to walk away and work on other things (normally the dishes) while he was working on this program. That doesn’t seem to happen very often either and I really appreciated this about the program. Not only does he GREATLY enjoy it but he can do it without my help!

Honestly, I am very rarely impressed with online programs but this one – THIS ONE – was impressive! Not only does my son LOVE working through it but it is a program that seems to have covered ALL the bases necessary. This is a program I HIGHLY SUGGEST!

And now that I’ve looked at the cost – WOW! – affordable! Now I **REALLY** suggest it! *grin* $35 for one online user (and the price has a discount for each additional user).

As a side note: Read, Write & Type is fine for kids in Australia, Canada and the UK, too, but the pronunciations of phonemes are different in those countries than they are in the U.S.

Other ways to stay in touch with Talking Fingers Inc.:

Twitter  @readwritetype

Now hop over and read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew! (Keep in mind that reviews will be posted any time between 4/12/16 and 4/14/16 so make sure to come back and see them all!)

Here’s praying you have fun learning!


Crew Disclaimer

Schoolhouse Review ~ Trigger Memory #hsreviews

The Trigger Memory Co REVIEW

We had the opportunity to review Times Tales DVD Digital Download from The Trigger Memory Co. If you haven’t heard of this, you will be very excited that you are reading this review! Below shows what comes with the program and what you need to use. With this you get two downloadable MP4 files as well as three pdf files. You watch the videos and use the pdf files for their worksheets (one of the three files is an answer key). This program sells for $19.95 at the time of this review. We used this with our 8 year old 2nd Grade son.


The Trigger Memory Co REVIEW

So, what exactly is TIMES TALES? I’m glad you asked! This is truly an amazing teaching tool! It teaches times tables to students through stories. Yes…STORIES! The students don’t even realize they are learning their times tables! GENIUS IDEA!! And…IT WORKS!!!

They suggest you listen to Part 1 of the DVD first (about 30 minutes – we had to split it in to two 15-minute sessions) and then do the Part 1 worksheets for a week. Then listen / watch Part 2 (also about 30 minutes – we had to split it in to two sessions – 19 minutes and 11 minutes) and then do Part 2 worksheets.


Honestly I was kind of “ho hum” about this review when we got it but boy was I WRONG! This thing is really impressive! It is quick and easy and OH.SO.EFFECTIVE!

So, what do I mean by this program “teaching through stories”? Exactly that! For instance, each number has a name, seven is Mrs. Week (and Mr. Week) because there are seven days in a week, eight is Mrs. Snowman (because she looks like a snowman), three is a butterfly (because the three looks like the butterfly wings), so on etc. Then each character is shared in a story like this one: There are two trees (the trees are nines). One had eight apples and the other had one apple. So without even realizing it, they learn that 9 x 9 = 81. So fun and so easy! And as you can see below – IT WORKS!

Here is a sample of one of the Part 2 Worksheets which are completed after listening to Part 2 (Part 1 are the same just the lower numbers). There are also flash cards and crossword puzzles. The numbers are shown on the different sheets as their characters and as regular numbers so you start with the character sheets and then move to just the number sheets. Such a wonderful way to work through learning higher times tables!


By the end of the program they are learning division! COOL! My son was actually really frustrated because as he said, “They haven’t taught us that!!” I said, “Just listen. And remember there are always the same three numbers.” So he listened, and not surprisingly, he got it right! He was really happy!

By entering your email address at this link you can get a free sample download.

As a side note, this program has seen GREAT response to students with special needs also!

Ways to keep up with The Trigger Memory Co.:


Now hop over and read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew! (Keep in mind that reviews will be posted any time between 4/4 and 4/6 so make sure to come back and see them all!)

Here’s praying you have fun learning!


Crew Disclaimer

Schoolhouse Review ~ EdTechLens #hsreviews

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens ReviewAs part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we had the opportunity to review an online science course (Rainforest Journey) through EdTechLens. This program is made for grades K – 5; we are using the 2nd Grade level of this program. EdTechLens is a fairly new program with Rainforest Journey being their first major project. They are NOT a faith-based nor a young earth based company. [It is apparent in some areas but we didn’t find it to be much of an issue. This is something that is found all over our world and something we have already discussed (and continue to discuss) with our son. Additionally, this curriculum is very specifically centered (rainforest) and is more of an “add-on” item. So for us these didn’t make much difference.] With that said, let’s get to the meat of things…

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

The set up of this system was extremely easy and flowed without issue for us. I went in and set P up as a student without any problems. Now, one thing I did miss (as did several other reviewers) is that somewhere along the set up process, you are actually setting up a login for your student. If you don’t realize this quickly, you will miss out on the tracking of the program with the student (unless you have them go back and do it again). You do have two choices when you set it up – the student can or canNOT move around freely within the program. I chose for him to be able to move around as he chose as that makes it easier for doing reviews. However, as you’ll see later, for us there was another benefit to doing it this way (which I didn’t realize when I set it up).


The above screen is the main student screen. It shows their progress as well as all the different parts of their course. This 2nd Grade Science Course has five units. If you click on the unit, the areas for that unit are then shown. You can then click on whatever part of it you would like to work on. Below is a partial picture of Unit 1. The check marks in the upper right corners mean they have been completed.


EdTechLens recommends using this program for 15 – 30 minutes a day. I’m not sure we used it that length of time simply because there is a lot of clicking and a small amount of information covered.

This program uses pictures, videos and audio and is packed full of facts. It is “short and sweet” and gets the points across quickly. Each lesson is one or two screens with each being about a minute or less of audio information. This is what each lesson page looks like:


There is a picture (normally) or a short video at the top. There is a “magnifying glass” you click on for verbiage or you can choose to listen to it using the audio choice. Most times this is about 15 – 30 seconds of information. You can then click on “Enrichment” and do the same as above.

Each lesson has a pdf file you can print and have your student complete. My son doesn’t like to write so we didn’t do these but they are nice reinforcement for what was covered. Additionally, answers are not provided for these sheets.

You then click “next” and go to the next lesson. Super easy.

In working through this program, before I realized there were two logins (one for me as the teacher and one for my son as the student) we accidentally got in to the Unit 1 Quiz – of which we were not able to get out of. We had not covered but only the beginning of the lessons so we really badly on the test. [We could have gone back in to take the test again at a later time, but we chose not to.]  We chose not to do any of the further quizzes. Here is a screen shot of the “My Quiz Results” area for the student:


You do have the choice of printing the tests off as a pdf or taking them online, we did the above online. The quiz was multiple choice using pictures (as shown below). Then there is an “open ended assessment” where the student provides their own answer to the questions. Then a “factual assessment” which uses sentence multiple choice. The first and third are graded online if you do the online test, the middle one shows acceptable answers but is not considered graded until the teacher evaluates and enters it. I feel the testing was adequate for the information covered.


Each unit also offers vocabulary and illustrations. The vocabulary consists of around five words with their definitions. The illustrations are full color pdf files you can print that provide additional information of what is being covered. Here is an example of one of the illustrations in our second grade curriculum:


Here is what the teacher can see on their progress page:


Teacher resources are also provided which consist of:

  • Teaching Guidance
    • Pedagogy
    • Lesson Planning
  • Course Materials
    • Lesson Reviews
    • Unit Assessments
  • Support
    • Quick Start Guide
    • User Guide
    • Contact

Overall we did enjoy this program but we did find it to be extremely easy and pretty simple overall. It definitely would not be an entire curriculum but a supplement you would use. It costs $50 for a one year license for one student (at the time of this review).

Ways to keep up with EdTechLens:

Google +:

Now hop over and read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew as many different grade levels were covered! (Keep in mind that reviews will be posted any time between 3/16 and 3/18 so make sure to come back and see them all!)

Here’s praying you have fun learning!


Crew Disclaimer

Schoolhouse Review ~ Demme Learning’s Math-U-See #hsreviews

TopPicWhen I saw that Demme Learning’s Math-U-See digital pack was available for review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew I was overjoyed. My son has been struggling a little with MUS Algebra 2 so I was curious to see what the Algebra 2 Digital Pack was all about. I wasn’t sure by the online description if it was going to be more in-depth than what he already had: the physical products of the instruction pack and student pack. I was hoping “other online resources” meant additional instruction of some sort. Unfortunately I was wrong.

Let me say that we LOVE Math-U-See and have used it for YEARS. It is a product I have recommended to others over the years more times than I can count. So, keep that in mind as I share my review of the digital pack. The digital packs are available for Primer through Pre-Calculus and the price increases with the difficulty of the class. The price of the Algebra 2 Digital Pack (that we are reviewing here) is $61 at the time of this review. This gives you one year of online access.

Demme Learning Math U See ReviewSo, let me tell you more about what the digital pack is and what it offers you and your student.

There is only one login. This gives you access to the instruction dvd (online video), teacher book (pdf) and book and test solutions (also pdf). As you can see below you pick your course on the top left, the lesson you want on the top right and the booklet information is available on the right sidebar. Keep in mind there is NO WAY to hide or make unavailable the solutions. (If that is an area of concern for you.)


A definite way this program is helpful is that you can watch it on many different devices instead of having to have some sort of dvd player. [One reviewer mentioned in our review forum that her student used headphones as well – so that is another wonderful option.] You can use an iPhone or a table or a laptop…definitely adds convenience!

Demme Learning Math U See ReviewSomething important to note: you MUST have the student workbook to use the digital packs.

Another side note: apparently there are digital manipulatives available for those courses that manipulatives are used. That would be very helpful, I would think. Algebra 2 doesn’t require manipulatives so we have no experience with them…but check out other reviewer posts (link is below) and see what they had to say about them!

In general I was disappointed with what the digital pack was but that is only because we already had everything we needed for MUS Algebra 2 and I was hoping there would be additional helpful teaching tools found in this program. There isn’t. It is the same thing you would get in the physical set.

But remember – WE LOVE MATH-U-SEE and know that many families will find the digital pack to be the perfect fit for their family!

Ways to keep up with Demme Learning:

Twitter:  @mathusee #​mathusee #homeschoolmath​ #hsreview

Now hop over and read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew! (Keep in mind that reviews will be posted any time between 3/7 and 3/9 so make sure to come back and see them all!)

Here’s praying you have fun learning!


Crew Disclaimer

Schoolhouse Review ~ Here to Help Learning #hsreviews

Here to Help Learning ReviewDo you have a student who isn’t overly impressed with learning about the writing process? I do! Our over-active 8 year old wants to do anything and everything but sit and write! However, we had the opportunity to review Flight 1 Paragraph Writing from Here to Help Learning as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

What we reviewed was all online, but there are physical copies you can purchase if you would prefer to go that route. If so, what we are reviewing here would be Teacher’s Kit Flight 1 Paragraph Writing. A lot of times I prefer physical copies but I must say that doing this online wasn’t bad at all!  This program is broken down into the following: Flight 1, 2, 3 Paragraph Writing [for grades 1-3] and Flights, 1, 2, 3 Essay Writing [appropriate for grades 4-6]. You can find out about their system requirements by clicking HERE.

Here to Help Learning is a program that brings God – as well as fun – to the “learning to write” process – something my son seriously dislikes. Let me tell you a little about the owners – Forrest and Beth Mora are homeschool parents of eight children. They have been homeschooling for twenty years and have one child left at home. God is intertwined throughout this program (which is something we especially love!). You can ready about what they believe HERE.

This program has only one login (not one for the teacher and one for the student) which is not a problem since, in all honesty, this isn’t really something I think my 8 year old son could do alone. Once you login you are taken to the members page and you click on “Writing” in the top menu. Then you choose “Level 1, 2 or 3”. We are using / reviewing / talking about Level 1 here.

After logging in and clicking “writing” then “Flight 1,” this is what you see (below). You actually have access to both the Paragraph Writing and the Essay Writing but we haven’t looked at the Essay Writing – so I have no idea what it is. There are other reviewers on The Crew reviewing that though so you can check out their reviews if you are interested in that (click link below). So, back to our stuff…

Once here you click on the appropriate box under the appropriate lesson. As I am writing this review, after several weeks of being able to use this product, I realize we have only but just begun! WOW! There is A LOT covered here! Even though they all aren’t shown in the picture below, there are 32 lessons available.


[One thing I do wish this program had was tracking of what you have completed and what you have not. Online programs without this option make it more difficult to know where we left off and where we need to start. I think us homeschooling moms (some of us working too) have a lot on our plates and it just makes it much more user friendly if tracking is offered. ANYWAY, I suppose in the big scheme of things this isn’t that big of a deal … just something to mention.]

Now, it is recommended that you work through each lesson using two days a week, one lesson per week. We actually found it worked best for us to go ahead and do the entire lesson at one time.

Once you click on the box, you are taken to a screen that looks like this – so far every lesson has this exact same look. This is nice because I don’t have to go searching and looking all over for anything, I know right where it is. The links on the right of the top picture are the videos available for this lesson. They are: Pre-Flight Checklist, Flight Check-In, Take Off, Full Throttle and Flying Solo. These are the same for each lesson but the Full Throttle and Flying Solo change as the lessons progress.


The videos for the lesson are at the top. The pages needed to print are at the bottom. I did have some confusion as to where each sheet was supposed to go so I got to where I only printed the one or two pages that were actually needed instead of all the pages available. This was helpful for our printer ink purposes as well. [As a side note, the videos watched can be increased so they take over the entire screen, if you prefer (which we did / do).]

We did have a bit of difficulty with Lesson 1 as we weren’t sure how the program worked and the information in the video (that the kids use) is different than what your student will use – but once we figured that out we were good to go.

We really appreciated how the owner (Beth Mora) dresses up and “plays the different parts” of different things throughout the lessons. This helped bring humor and interest to the writing process.


Okay, so the program we used is about the writing process:

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Make a List
  3. Webbing
  4. First Rough Draft
  5. First Input
  6. Second Rough Draft
  7. Second Input
  8. Final Recopy
  9. Publish

Part of what the student does during the warm-up phase of the lessons is use a word box (as shown below). I think this is one of the best things this program had to offer for Philip – it really helped him to narrow down some ideas and then use those to write about.


As animal lovers, we enjoyed having the flight captain being a basset hound! His name is “Captain Knucklehead” which we have to chuckle every time we hear that too. You will find him at the “Flying Solo” parts of the lessons.


Below is part of the work we did. It is shared in the program that the students writing ability will determine whether they write it or dictate the information. Philip is NOT a writer … he never has been. So, he dictates and I write. Eventually, as time goes, I will have him write more and more. As it says at the top left, this is the “make a list” part of the writing process.


During this review period we were able to complete an entire writing project (six lessons). Now that we have made it through the first project, I am starting to understand how the program works and will be more able to guide Philip through the remaining 25-ish lessons. This is definitely a program I intend to continue using!

Although there as been some confusion with different aspects of the program, we absolutely LOVE the way the program works. (And works it does!)

As a last note, in general I get the idea / feeling that this program was originally more geared toward a co-op setting for using it in more of a classroom setting which makes is a little more difficult to understand the flow as someone who is using it with just one student but in general it didn’t affect our usage of this program.

Ways to keep up with Here to Help Learning:

Vendor Blog

YouTube Channel

Now hop over and read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew! (Keep in mind that reviews will be posted any time between 3/7 and 3/9 so make sure to come back and see them all!)

Here’s praying you have fun learning!


Crew Disclaimer

Schoolhouse Review ~ IXL #hsreviews

 photo IXLCollage_zps398b7f49.jpg

We had the opportunity to review IXL an online Math and Language Arts Program. It covers grades PreK-12 for Math and grades 2-8 for Language Arts.

If you have been homeschooling for any length of time, you have probably already heard of IXL. They offer a free program (limited access that will only allow you to use it for a limited time) and they also offer a paid program (unlimited access to everything). We received one year of full access to the PAID program for both IXL Math and IXL Language Arts for this review.

IXL has made a pretty impressive online learning supplement! Their mission: passionate about creating and supporting the best educational technology possible; developing first-of-their-kind products used by millions of learners, from children to adults and deeply committed to solving the real-world challenges faced by students and teachers around the planet.

IXL offers visual representations, listening exercises and interactive activities so as to utilize both the right and left sides of the brain. The site has vibrant images and awards and certificates that are hidden throughout the site. There are hundreds of virtual awards that reflect kids’ favorite animals, foods, places, and hobbies. Within IXL math, each grade level has its own themed game board, filled with hidden prizes, so practicing math is like one big treasure hunt.

 photo IXLCollage3_zps600747a1.jpg

We spent the majority of our time reviewing the Kindergarten through Second Grade Math items but my older son did mess around with Algebra 1 a little and I did hop around in several different areas within the program.

With IXL you are only provided one login name and password. When you login you then pick which person is working on items at that time. You can also switch between users without having to login out and back in again. This is handy when you have several users. The program does not track where you left off or remind you of where to start and every user has access to all items. This could be confusing for younger learners but help from the teacher easily fixes it. (Since P is only six I sat with him the entire time he was working with this program, not only to be able to provide an accurate, knowledgeable review but also to help him navigate around.)

The one thing the program does offer for knowing where you have or have not been are little bars to the side of the options…they are darker if you have visited that area and “whited out” if you have not – as shown below.

 photo UsageSign_zpsb07b8795.jpg

There are many things we appreciated about this program. For example, in the picture below, the student actually MOVES the ruler so they can find out how long the given item is…we thought this was a very impressive, really fun, interactive way to learn about measuring…since that is how it would work in real life.

 photo FishRuler_zps2fdb1ab5.jpg

Notice the green “speaker boxes” to the left of the sentences above. These are where you can click and the sentences will be read out loud for the student. LOVE this! I am amazed at different online programs that do not offer this for lower elementary learning – so we really appreciated that IXL offers this. [Audio is available for all math items for grades PreK through Fifth.]

Every screen you are working in shows the chart on the right above. It shows problems solved, time elapsed and what their score is out of 100. One thing I would have liked is to have the option to change the number of problems necessary. My youngest felt an average of thirty problems per section was a bit much (but he’s my ‘never wants to sit in one spot for more than a couple seconds’ kid).

The picture below is from eighth grade language arts. I thought it was really neat and fun how I could actually highlight (the green part below) within the text they provided on the screen. Simple but interactive. Nice.

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Below is another eighth grade language arts item. (You can tell what area you are in by looking at the top left of the screen…where the red box is.) In this one I was able to change the verbiage underneath the sign to say what the correct wording of the sign should be. Again simple – but very effective – interaction.

 photo English1_zpsfea7329c.jpg

This program is meant to be used as a supplement or as a review. The reason it is considered a supplement or review item is that it doesn’t TEACH the concepts but only tells how something is done if a WRONG answer is submitted. We didn’t really understand that at first so things weren’t going very well for us initially. But once we realized that it is more for review – it changed everything and we really enjoyed working with it. As you can see below we weren’t sure what answer they wanted submitted so we received an incorrect answer. You can see that it shows the correct answer and then explains how that answer was obtained. My youngest found this frustrating but we were able to talk through why it does things like this so it wasn’t a huge thing for us.

The example below is from my oldest using Algebra 1.

 photo IXLCollage2_zps696d5c3f.jpg

There are such a huge amount of topics covered in every grade for both math and language arts that I would not be able to list them all here. Head over to their site and check them all out by clicking HERE.

In addition to learning, IXL also offers a “report” area which is found under the “Parent” account. Here are the report choices which offer pretty much everything you could be looking for.

 photo ReportsHome_zps6cdfcfed.jpg

Below is a sample report. Although they do offer a lot of reports, you have to select each thing for each report: student, grade, subject, etc. It is a little tedious but does provide the necessary information. For me, I would prefer a more simple way to receive a complete report of what each student worked on…something a little less detailed maybe…but that’s just me.

 photo Report1_zps38573996.jpg

As you can see this is a very comprehensive online program that just about everyone can get something from.

Additionally, although we didn’t utilize them, they do offer online apps for the iPad, Android and Kindle.

Now…the cost breakdown:

    • Math (PreK – 12) is $9.95 per month or $79 per year.
    • Language Arts (Grades 2 – 8) is $9.95 per month or $79 per year.
    • BOTH Math AND Language Arts is $15.95 per month or $129 per year.

Each additional child is $2.00 per month or $20 per year.

An interesting tidbit, I thought, they offer programs for the following countries: United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and United Kingdom…that’s a pretty impressive list! If you have any questions about which edition is right for you, contact them at any time at

Now hop over and Read more IXL reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

Here’s praying you have fun learning!




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